With the constant looking down at your desk, laptop, or phone, it's no surprise that many of us suffer from stiff necks.
This is also why the turtleneck or text neck syndrome, where your head sticks forward and is angled downward, is common in this day and age.
Although tight necks are very common among desk workers, they're often overlooked. Having a tight neck can cause tension or spasms in your trapezius (traps), the muscle that starts at the base of your neck, goes across your shoulders and extends to the middle of your back.
This muscle helps you move your head, neck, arms, shoulders and torso, and is also crucial for a stable spine and posture.
And that's why it's important to do neck stretches.
Not only will stretching your neck ease the discomfort in your body, but it will also increase your daily range of movement, giving you more freedom and confidence.
It can even improve your sleep and posture to make you feel and look more lively.
Here are three of my favourite neck stretches that you can do anytime, anywhere.
1. For the side of your neck: Side neck stretch with arm extension
What it does: While the simple neck to shoulder stretch targets the side of your neck, extending your arm helps to deepen the stretch and move the stretch down to your traps muscle.
How to do it: Start by sitting up straight. Roll your shoulders back and draw your shoulder blades down.
Reach the heel of your left palm towards the floor to pull your shoulder away from your body.
Raise your right hand up and place it above your left ear.
Tilt your head to the right and use your right hand to bring your right ear closer to your right shoulder.
Keep your shoulder down and focus on bringing your head down rather than your shoulder up.
Stay here for 10 deep breaths and repeat on the other side.
2. For the back of your neck: Side neck stretch with twist
What it does: You can do a regular chin to chest pose to stretch the back of your neck, but it's often the sides of the back of the neck that feel tight - this pose targets just that.
How to do it: Start in the previous side neck stretch with arm extension pose.
From there, slowly tilt your right chin towards your right armpit to turn your neck.
Keep drawing your left shoulder away from your body while pulling your chin towards the right.
Hold for 10 deep breaths, then repeat on the other side.
3. For the front of your neck: Neck and chest opener
What it does: Since we're almost always looking down, the front of our necks is not often fully extended.
This pose helps to stretch and length the front of your neck and upper body.
How to do it: Interlock your fingers and place them under your chin, palms facing down.
Lift your elbows up and push your head back to tilt your chin up.
Keep pulling your elbows back and pushing your chest forward to deepen the stretch.
Stay here for 10 breaths and repeat once.
Whenever possible, try to look side to side and do some simple neck rotations to ease tightness in your neck.
It's also a healthy habit to look at greenery and stand intermittently instead of sitting and staring at your screen all day.
This article was first published in Her World Online.