Thursday, November 18, 2010

Stiff neck, tight shoulders? It may be Disappearing Neck Syndrome

Just because it is not a real syndrome in the technical sense, seeing how your neck will probably never entirely disappear, does not mean that disappearing neck syndrome (DNS) should not be taken seriously. In fact it may be affecting you right now.

How do you know if you have DNS? Answer the questions below to see if you are at risk:

1. Do you work at a computer?
2. Do you use a hand held device?
3. Do you drive a car?
4. Do you experience minor stresses on a daily basis?

If you answered yes to two or more of these questions, you should stop what you are doing, acknowledge that you probably have DNS, and STRETCH! Don't stress (it only make things worse). This will only take a minute- you don't even have to leave your chair!

1. Shoulder Rolls: Relax your arms by your sides and draw small circles with your shoulders to the back for 10, and then to the front for 10.

2. Pec Stretch 1: Sit up tall, reach your arms back and grab the back of your seat behind your butt (fingers point back) lift your chest toward the ceiling hold for 10 deep breaths.
* if you are on a ball, reach to the back of a ball , if you are standing clasp your hands behind your back, palms together and straighten your arms

3. Pec Stretch 2: Turn your chair sideways to the left at your desk, keep your right forearm on desk, then lean forward as your chest sinks toward your thighs. make sure your chest is below the level of your right arm. You should feel the stretch in the front of the chest. Hold for 10 breaths, switch sides.
*To deepen the stretch kneel on the floor instead of sitting on chair.

4. Neck Stretch 1: Reach you right hand down and clasp the bottom of your seat, pull your shoulder blades down your back and then pull your left ear to your left shoulder, slowly nod your head front to back (as if nodding yes) maintaining the side bend in the neck. 10 reps then switch sides.

5. Neck Stretch 2: OK- you may look a little funny doing this one, but if anyone stares, just stick your tongue out while you do it and they'll probably look away quickly and give you your privacy ;)
Sit up tall like you are being measured for height and want to be an inch taller, lift especially high through the back of your head. Now slide your chin in towards the back of your neck like you are trying to make a double chin, then release. This is a slide motion, not a nod. Imagine your chin is on a shelf and you are just sliding it back and forth. Eyes should stay fixed on one point directly in front of you). Hold chin in for 3 counts release for 2 counts, do 10 reps.

Disclaimer: These exercises will work to relieve shoulder and neck tension, herein referred to as DNS, however, people may look at you inquisitively if you mention to them that you have DNS, as it is not really a medical syndrome. On the other hand, they may not even notice, seeing how we live in a society that seems to have an acronym for everything we do that is out of the ordinary (and even some that are not) So, if they look puzzled just give them the test above and refer them to this blog for a little TLC.


  1. Awesome exercises, thanks!!! So useful for those of us that are glued to our desks for too many hours each day! The humorous writing is totally appreciated, I'm going to start sticking my tongue out more;)

  2. Thanks for the advice! Doing those light exercises are really helpful in preventing neck pain. Though while they can soothe the pain, it’s best to get a professional input on the matter. Pain and stiffness could simply be just that, but there's also a chance that it's a sign of something worse. So, it's better to be safe than sorry.

    Jacqueline Hodges @ Back and Neck Center of Brick