5 Tips to Nip that Neck Pain
One condition that I’m continuing to see with my patients (and experience myself) is neck pain. There are many manual therapies to help relieve pain, especially if muscle tension is the source. However, just like anything else, keeping our muscles loose requires some homework on our part.
Let go of Stress
Have you ever noticed that your shoulders are all the way up to your ears? Neck muscles love to hold onto the stress of our daily lives. Body scans are a useful way to notice the tension in your body. I love using Calm App before bed to see where I’m holding onto tension. When I find trouble areas, I re-adjust, take some deep breaths and try to consciously relax. This usually leads to a better sleeping position, a deeper sleep, and less pain in the morning.
Battle Magnesium Deficiencies
The best sources of magnesium are green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, fish and whole grains. However, there are many things that also deplete this nutrient. Things like stress, exercise, alcohol, prescription meds, carbonated beverages and diuretics actually decrease magnesium levels in our bodies. Magnesium is known to play a role in proper muscle function, thus supplementing can help reduce tension and has even shown to prevent headaches. If you don’t want to supplement, Epson Salt (magnesium sulftate) baths do the same trick. Lucky you now have another excuse to have a candle-lit bath.
Chances are, you are reading this article from either your computer or smart phone. Take a moment to notice the ergonomics of your posture. Are you holding your phone in your lap? Are you looking down at your computer screen? Is your head carrying forward? As you look down, your neck moves forward, and your upper back rounds. People are spending an average of 8 hr and 21 mins a day on technology. That’s a lot of time for this posture to progress. Let’s look up and make your chin parallel to the floor while using technology. This is also a better way to notice the beautiful world around you :)
A forward head carriage adds stress to your spine leading to more pain. In fact, the further your head is the heavier it feels to your body. If you are guilty of poor posture, good news is that you can still correct it. Muscle imbalances accentuate forward head posture and rounded shoulders. In order to fix this, it’s important to stretch shortened postural muscles first. If you don’t, they will prevent phasic muscles from regaining their full strength. Stretching postural muscles such as Pectorals, Upper Trapezius, and Levator Scapula should be the focus when trying to correct the upper neck/back.
Once you’ve stretched your postural muscles (listed above) you can move onto strengthening the phasic muscles. These muscles weaken when under stress or after improper use. Phasic muscles that should be focused on in the upper neck/back are neck flexors and rhomboids/lower trapezius. Realigning your posture will reduce stress on your spine and improve neck pain. If you want to read more about this muscle imbalance, it is classically known as upper cross syndrome. You can also visit us in the clinic for specific exercise examples.
Time to Try
For one week try doing this video “Office Yoga for the Neck and Shoulders” to stretch out tight muscles after a hard day’s work. This exercise will only take 13 mins of your day. Let us know how you feel after!