You might be suffering from one of the most common causes of neck pain; poor posture, weak muscles, or too much stress. Use these 5 steps to identify and reduce neck pain!
Step 1 -Find the cause
Poor posture is the most common cause of chronic neck pain as we spend so much time sitting in front of computers and devices. This encourages a forward head posture, with the shoulders slumped forwards, a kyphotic, or rounded upper back and the head poking forwards. Once you identify poor posture and note which muscles are strained and which are weak, it becomes easier to prevent and treat them.
Is your desk set up to correctly? Can you stand up and take breaks frequently? Are you able to use a headset at work? Is the angle of your computer at eye level or are you craning your neck for periods of time? Sleeping with the head supported correctly according to your position is also something to consider. Is your pillow to soft or too firm?
Step 2 – Cool it down, then heat it up!
If you have acute neck pain, we want to reduce any acute inflammation with ice, then after some time, switch to heat. The heat encourages the muscles to relax. Taking an anti-inflammatory can also help reduce intense pain from the common causes of neck pain. Always consult a doctor or health professional for professional advice that is suited to your specific needs.
Step 3 – Stretch
Now that you know what the problem is, and you’ve warmed and relaxed the muscle, the next step is to stretch, flex and roll your shoulders every hour or so. Stretching the muscles helps to release tight tissue and Sitting still is the real problem, so if you are at a desk or driving for long periods of time, try to take a break every 45 minutes or so to stand up, reach up and down slowly or to roll the shoulders backwards.
Stretch the traps and the muscles surrounding the neck by dropping your shoulders and extending, then flexing, then side bending the head to each side. Holding a weight on the right hand then side bending to the left (bring the left ear to the left shoulder) can help to stretch the upper traps which are commonly a site for tension caused by stress.
Step 4 – Relax
Changing how you rest can go a long way to feeling better again. Resting and relaxing those muscles allows them to lengthen, improve blood flow, and help you wake up feeling better than the night before.
Getting a massage is a great way to relax and lengthen muscles that are tight and causing pain. Massage therapy can also include stretching and fascial release, helping to release the tissue that keeps muscles around the neck tight.
Removing the thing that stresses you and actually builds tension in the first place isn’t always easy, but if it is at all possible, take time off of that stressor. Take an afternoon to yourself and get your body taken care of.
Step 5 – Strengthen
Long-weak muscles and short-hypertonic postural muscles are to be blamed for bad posture becoming progressively more painful. The mid and lower trapezius muscles are a good place to start. Exercises like seated rows, scapular retraction, and bent-rows are great to combat poor posture. Practicing retracting the chin while sitting and holding for several seconds is another good way to train the neck muscles. Working with a therapist who has knowledge in biomechanics and strength training is an ideal guide to strengthen your way to a pain-free neck.