I’ve been working with a young man who has terrible neck tension, a result of computer work. He never had pain or discomfort in all the years he was an athlete, but now he feels stiff all the time. Eight hours a day at a desk job will do that to you.
My main message to him has been, if some area of the body is tight, it’s because it’s missing support. Finding the support of the ground all the way through his spine will relieve the tension his neck is exerting to hold his head up. Today we worked on his ability to sense the contact that his sitz bones (what you feel on a hard bicycle seat) could make with the chair, providing upward support for the whole of his spine.
To distinguish what it means to “allow the sitz bones to release” into the chair, I asked him first to pull them up away from the chair, and see what that did to his neck. Try this, and you may notice that this is akin to “sitting up straight” for most people–it tenses the back and neck, requiring effort that can’t be sustained. You might also notice that it’s harder to breathe while pulling the sitz bones up. By contrast, releasing the sitz bones into the chair allows the entire length of the spine to release, and now the neck isn’t the only part available to support the weight of the head.
The contrast between contracting or releasing the sitz bones becomes even more pronounced when leaning the torso forward, as when typing. What’s harder, holding a 10-lb bowling ball at arms length, or close to your chest? The further the head is angled away from its base of support (point of contact with the chair), the more we need to release into that support below, so the neck can release above.