Ditch the pillow

Like many people, my neck gives me a little grief at times. Carrying our heads forward of their optimal position stacked on top of the spine is very common. It can be the product of many tiny things we do each day and have done for years. Having our heads forward, for one thing, strains the upper back muscles who have to hold on tight to keep the head upright.

So, one thing I’ve been doing recently to give my little neck and upper back some love is lying down at the end of the day without my pillow. I take 5-10 minutes to let my head feel that position of alignment with the spine, using the bed as my plumbline. It feels good, like a supported stretch. When a few minutes have passed and I feel ready to sleep, I grab my pillow and roll onto my side. Just a few minutes, but therapeutic nonetheless.

Another stretch that I like I also do at the end of the day. I lay on my back all the way at the edge of my bed so that my shoulder is lined up with the edge. I let my arm hang off the side of the bed, shoulder height and higher. This gives me a great stretch through the pectoralis major muscle. I stretch my fingers back to increase the stretch and bring it into the forearm more. I do this with my massage clients and most people are surprised how tight they are in this area and how good the stretch feels. Since almost everything we do as humans is in front of us (driving, typing, playing an instrument, washing the dishes) we tend to roll our shoulders forward. Combine this with the forward head carriage and you have a prescription for a cranky upper back. This is about the laziest way to do something good for yourself to combat the day’s posture challenges.

Some people prefer a pectoralis stretch in a doorway or up against a wall. These are also great options I sometimes choose. Basically we all need some help combating our rolled forward shoulders. So pick a stretch you like and do it as often as you remember. Your body will thank you.

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One thought on “Ditch the pillow

  1. christiekiley says:

    That’s interesting about the non-pillow stretch. Whenever I lay on my bed without a pillow, I always feel like my head is way below the level of my body. It’s so uncomfortable! I even feel the same way if I lay with my head on only one pillow, so I sleep with two. But maybe the stretch would be good just for a few minutes. I’ll try it and see how it makes me feel, thanks for the tip!

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