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Reprinted from Mature Fitness (formerly published as the Senior Fitness Bulletin) by
permission of the American Senior Fitness Association (800) 243-1478,
SIT DOWN AND EXERCISE!
By Mary Ann Wilson, R.N.
Mary Ann Wilson, an SFA National Advisory Board member, is the host of public television's popular Sit and Be Fit@ workout series. She teaches in retirement homes where participants are 80 to 100 years old and often use wheelchairs, walkers and canes. For a brochure describing Sit and Be Fit@ video products, contact: P.O. Box 8033, Spokane WA 99203-0033 (509) 448-9438 or visit the SIT AND BE FIT website at www.sitandbefit.com .
Pain in the Neck?
On some days, the weight of the world might feel as though it is concentrated on your shoulders near the base of the neck. Quite a heavy load, isn't it? This comes as no surprise since the neck muscles are on constant duty, holding the head, which weighs ten to twelve pounds, in an upright position. During the course of the day, a person's head, normally centered on the neck, may move forward because of gravity and daily activities. Forward carriage of the head and neck can add up to thirty pounds of pull on the cervical spine. This is the major reason for tightness in the back of the neck. It's no wonder some of your students come to exercise class already fatigued and lacking energy.
Poor posture is also a culprit that causes neck pain. Not only is poor posture unattractive, but it also:
How do we help our students to lift that load off their shoulders? First, we concentrate on establishing good posture with proper spinal alignment.
Get the neck in good alignment. Touch the chin with hand.
Pull the chin back and away from hand
Now let's exercise the neck by using isometric exercises to ease stiffness and become more flexible. Keep in mind that in isometric exercise, there is little or no joint movement. In these exercises, the hand provides resistance. Also, remember these keys to successful isometric exercise:
Isometric Neck Exercise #1
1. Sitting in the chair, put one hand on the waist and bring the other beside your head with the palm on your cheek.
2. Breathe in and as you breathe out, GENTLY press your head into the hand as though you are trying to bring ear down to shoulder.
3. Resist with the hand. Do not allow head or hand to move. Count out loud to the count of three. (Counting out loud assures you that your participants are breathing and not holding their breath.)
4. Take another breath in, relax, and repeat the exercise.
5. Now while still maintaining good neck alignment, lean head to the left as if trying to touch left shoulder. Using your right arm, press right palm down toward floor for a stretch from your right hand through your neck. By stretching the muscles, range of motion is improved.
6. Repeat on other side.
Isometric Neck Exercise #2
1. Clasp hands behind head. As you move elbows back, PULL CHIN IN and move your head back into the hands, pressing GENTLY to the count of three, then release.
2. Blow out gently through the mouth with each passing movement.
3. Do this exercise four times.
Isometric Neck Exercise #3
1. In addition to the above exercises or to add variety, place your left hand on the side of your head, palm facing the cheek. Touch your chin with the fingers of your right hand to support the head.
2. GENTLY and VERY SLIGHTLY, turn head to the left, meeting resistance from your left hand. Do not allow the head or hand to move. Count out loud to the count of three.
3. Repeat exercise on other side.
By making sure the neck is properly aligned and the neck muscles are stretched and limber, neck pain and strain are kept at a minimum. As an exercise instructor, you've done your part in reducing the weight of the world on your students' shoulders!
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