Q:

What's the best way to stretch my neck?

I often have a sore, tight neck after work. What's the proper way for me to stretch my neck before running or biking? The Editors Santa Fe, New Mexico

A:

Stretching may feel good for a while, but it's not necessarily what you need. Try this:

1. Assess your work. If your neck is always sore after a day on the job, let's first address what's causing your pain. If you're on the phone all day, get a headset. If you sit at a desk for a lot of hours, create a more ergonomic work station¬ómany companies will help you do this.

2. Assess your workout. The stress from running or biking will aggravate your sore neck. Get your bike properly fitted for you at a bike shop. It's worth the investment. And focus on posture when you run, keeping your chest up, shoulders back and legs beneath your hips, not out in front of you.

3. Improve posture with exercise. Loosen up your thoracic spine using a foam roll or massage stick. (You can buy these tools at http://CorePerformance.com.) Also, strengthen the muscles that stabilize your shoulder blades to help improve your posture and reduce your risk for neck pain. Try a couple exercises called "Ys" and "Ts."

-- Sue Falsone, Director of Performance Physical Therapy, Athletes' Performance

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