Looking Up: 3 Steps to Avoid Neck Compression

Before I share, I invite you to look up at the ceiling or sky to give yourself a baseline for how you move when the object of interest is above you.

Photo Credits: Michael Bakich; Mark Margolis / Rainbow Symphony

Photo Credits: Michael Bakich; Mark Margolis / Rainbow Symphony

The total solar eclipse on 8/21/17 inspired many to stop, pause and … look up! And it inspired this blog, along with wanting to support the many people that suffer from neck and other body pain that neck compression can cause.

There are many situations in which you might look up such as in a yoga pose, kissing (if your partner is taller than you), before walking up stairs, or when admiring a beautiful tree, a skyscaper, a plane or the stars. When taking photographs, you might kneel and look up. When swimming, you might look up during every breaststroke. On mass transit, when you’re lucky enough to get a seat, you might look up at the the message board announcing the next stop.

Whatever the situation, I sometimes find myself thinking: “Yikes, careful not to compress the back of your neck.  This brings the weight of your heavy head back and down onto your body.” I say that to myself — and when I have the opportunity, I share these Alexander Technique tips to avoid unnecessary neck compression.

Now’s your chance to compare your baseline (did you look up when you first started to read this post?) to something that might feel different. This time, look up at the ceiling or sky after reading the following invitations.

  1. Think of looking up as an activity of your whole spine, not just your neck.

  2. When you think of your whole spine, remember that the topmost part of your spine is behind your eyes and in between your ears (it is higher than most people think).

  3. Allow your eyes to start the movement leading the head up and away from your feet (more than back). 

This allows the whole spine to lengthen and bend, while the back of your neck stays as lengthened as possible. You may find this also allows your shoulders to open up.

Save this post for the next total solar eclipse in 2024 or make this your new habit.

Explore further: Try the above steps with the Five-Minute Unfix.

Curious about looking down: Read Avoiding “Text Neck” When Using Your Smartphone.

What do you see in the photos? Comment on Facebook if you can see where there is less neck compression in the photos or if you have questions.

Shared with Newsletter recipients August 24, 2017; Last updated February 10, 2019