- Heidi Alexander, LAc
Soft Foam Roller Routine For Neck Pain, Shoulder Discomfort And Tech Neck
Updated: Mar 21, 2022
Neck and shoulder pain are on the rise with increased use of mobile devices, tablets and laptops. We frequently position our heads too far forward. Over time this creates "tech neck" and along with it, tremendous discomfort. Forward head posture creates a cascade of muscle spasms, trigger points and reduced range of motion. Typically pain is felt at the base of the skull, top of the shoulders and along the shoulder blades. Turning head to either or both sides may become restricted. Headaches may also arise.
The following series is a Feldenkrais and Pilates inspired routine designed to gently loosen tight muscles and improve posture. What I love about this routine is that it does not require forceful stretching, which can be risky to the cervical spine. This entire sequence should feel comfortable, gentle and be conducted with a sense of ease. If any position or movement creates pain, please discontinue and disregard that portion of the routine.
I highly recommend investing in the OPTP PRO foam roller. Unlike the traditional painful and hard foam roller, this supportive roller gently yields to your tissue. It is excellent for supine routines. For self-massage rolling, it provides a far better experience and outcome.
To achieve best results, take your time and enjoy your breath throughout. - Lay lengthwise on the foam roller, with both head and hips supported. Feet are on the floor with knees bent. Legs should be placed to create a feeling of stability. - Pre-check your side-to-side head rotation for pain and range of motion. - Spend a few minutes just relaxing in this position, breathing deeply and letting sinking sensations set in.
- Gently press your lower back toward the roller times and then release. - Place your arms out to the sides. Inhale as you bring your palms together (use straight arms, aimed over your chest, not over your face). - Exhale as you return your arms to the floor. Rest your hands on the ground for a moment to allow the pecs to disengage. - Repeat 3 more times. - Continue this sequence with 4 repetitions for these 4 orientations: palms together, thumbs together, pinkies together and backs of hands together. Rest for a moment at the bottom of each movement. - Next, glide your arms along the floor, creating angel wings. Repeat several times. - On your final angel wing motion, bring your arms straight up overhead, parallel with the floor. Only do this if it's comfortable. Stay for 30 seconds or so. Repeat if you'd like. This particular position is excellent for tech neck. - Re-test your side-to-side head rotation for pain and range of motion.
- Repeat this routine as often as you'd like. I often do this daily when pain is more pronounced. For preventative maintenance, 3-4 times per week will do wonders.
I hope this helps!