No, we don't mean your ex. Most of us pay very little attention to our necks. They are simply something to hold our heads up and a place to put scarves. This important part of your body deserves more attention, or it will protest with pain.
The muscular structure of the neck is extremely complex. Neck muscles control the movement of the head in all directions, and also play a part in chewing, swallowing, eye movement and facial expressions. There is a lot to go wrong.
We all start life with good posture. Two and three year olds naturally hold their heads well with a neutral spine. Even a sitting baby does this, as the correct head-up posture balances the spine and is easier to hold. Screens, books and modern life tend to override these good habits, and that can cause neck problems.
Paying attention to everyday life posture will really help your neck and back. Keep hips, shoulders and head in a line, sit properly and think how you carry items.
A strong core is essential so make sure you are working on your core when you exercise.
Maintain proper form when doing exercise, particularly with crunches and sit-ups. Don’t lace hands behind your head, as that can encourage you to pull your neck forward. Position your head by imagining an egg held between your chin and your chest. Too far forward and the egg breaks, too far back and the egg falls (and breaks).
There are a couple of simple exercises that you can do to ease neck tension. Try ten each of these.
Neck tilt: sit tall in a supportive chair, arms down by your sides. Lower your chin slowly to your chest, raise again, repeat.
Neck turn: stand tall and straight. Turn your head slowly to one side as far as you can comfortably go. Hold for five seconds, return to neutral and then repeat on the other side.
Don’t wind your neck in, stretch it out!
I would say that anyone who works in front of a computer should do regular neck stretches throughout the day. Just simple ones are enough. Good to be reminded of it, as well as all the standard workout stuff.
I would recommend the Alexander technique for helping posture and neck problems. It's a little pricey but you don't forget what you learn in a few sessions and it's very helpful for the rest of your life.
We definitely take our necks for granted. I have had whiplash and believe me, it's something that makes you so grateful when the pain eases. I know you can't avoid accidents but anything you can do to strengthen and make your neck more flexible, the better.
Toddlers have such good posture, I am really hoping I can help mine to stay that way. Just reading this article is making me sit up straighter.