Pain is never pleasant, but something about neck pain really seems to be a pain in the neck. We can give our feet and arms a rest if they’re tired or painful, but as long as we are upright our necks are always working hard to keep our head supported and our eyes on our target. If follows then that neck pain is a common injury seen in PT. Below are 5 tips to reduce your neck pain or prevent your chance of getting neck pain.
- Posture: This is the number 1 tip for a reason. If we are constantly sitting/standing with rounded shoulders and head forward our neck is working extra hard to keep our head up for a prolonged time. The ideal posture is for our head when we are sitting/standing is to position our heads exactly on top of and between our shoulders which is then positioned on top of our hips. Maybe mom correcting our posture wasn’t a bad thing after all.
- Strengthen your back: If you do have a rounded shoulder and forward head posture then one of the best ways is to strengthen your mid back. A classic exercise is resisted rows seen below. Starting with 8-15 repetitions 1-3 sets.
- Stretching: Like any muscle in your body, stretching your neck muscles is important, if you have stiffness don’t be afraid to turn your head or bend your head side to side to loosen it up. The stretches below are a good start, holding each position for 10-30 sec multiple times a day.
- Massage: A lot of people carry their tension in their necks which results in muscle spasms of upper back and neck. A great way to reduce this is getting a massage from a professional or a friend/family member.
- Sleeping Position: So many people complain of neck pain when they wake up in the morning. Reducing this can be hard because when you are asleep your subconscious brain and body will do what it wants. But general guidelines is to get a pillow that will support your head so that you’re spine from your tailbone all the way to your skull is roughly in a straight line (see previous blog that goes into more depth).
Remember if pain or stiffness persist or if you have numbness or tingling/pins and needles radiating into your arms/hand see your physician or talk to a trusted physical therapist.