Big Garden Birdwatch – take care of your neck and back

Are you joining in RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend?

The Big Garden Birdwatch is useful, as well as being fun! Encourage your children to join you in monitoring the birds for one hour in local parks such as Newington Green or Clissold Park, or even the birds you can see from your window at home.


This annual survey is the largest example of citizen science in the world! Your findings will add to the information that has been built up over three decades about the state of the UK’s native birdlife. This information not only shows which birds are thriving and which are in decline, but it also gives an indication about the health of our environment as a whole.

Sir John Betjeman sculpture St Pancras station.jpg
Be careful ~ birdwatching can cause problems for our necks and backs!

This delightful sculpture of Sir John Betjeman by Martin Jennings in St Pancras Station shows some of the problems well. As he looks up, Sir John’s neck is contracted and compressed, whilst his lower back is arched into an exaggerated lordosis, which thrusts lots of weight down into his lumbar spine. His arm is lifted, much as it would be to use binoculars – but I wonder, is he holding his hat on as he looks upwards towards the splendid roof, or is he protecting his neck by taking some of the weight of his head in his hand – or both?
How do you look up for ages, without hurting your neck and back?

you are using binoculars, or looking up to
see what bird is sitting in the treetops, your neck and shoulders can get
very contracted, tense and jammed up.   A good challenge is to look right up to the
top of the Tate Modern tower, to where peregrine falcons
often sit and sometimes nest – without scrunching up your neck – How do you do that?

The Alexander Technique can help you
You really need to apply what you have
learnt in Alexander lessons – remember to keep freeing your neck and maintaining as much length as possible in both your neck and your spine as you look around. Allow your neck to lengthen out again at frequent intervals. Keep your arms and shoulders free and loose, allowing them to drop down regularly, so they can lengthen out again.  If
you are using heavy binoculars use a wide strap to
spread the weight, rather than pressing it into your neck.
it is all too easy to arch your back if you are looking upwards like Sir John, so
that you can end up with back ache. However, if you are aware of your use and keep giving yourself directions so that you maintain the length in your spine, you will hopefully avoid any discomfort and just enjoy yourself. You might be wise to lie down in semi-supine afterwards, to let go of any scrunching and mis-use that’s taken place…..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *