How to get rid of neck pain
Neck pain? It’s common, but it’s not normal. Countless times a week, we encounter people who “wake up with neck pain” or “simply opened a door and couldn't move their neck”. Neck pain is one of the most common complaints in today’s society.
With various aggravating factors including, poor posture, prolonged sitting, and poor workplace ergonomics, these unfortunate flare ups are an accumulation of events over time. Neck pain is experienced differently by everyone, below are a few examples of what many of our clients experience:
Sharp neck pain
Dull neck pain
What many flare ups of neck pain, back pain, or even hip pain have in common, is repetitive stress and strain. Over the months, years, and decades, many people often find themselves repeating daily routines or habits which may be contributing to their discomfort.
Think of your head as a heavy bowling ball, and your body is always working to maintain it on top of your shoulders. With the constant efforts of your cervical spine (neck) along with other supporting muscles, poor posture and repetitive habits make it difficult for your body to support your head's weight.
Neck pain relief? Stretches for neck pain? Now let's get to the part you’ve all been waiting for.
What do we do!?
First and foremost, these recommendations are general guidelines and may not apply for everyone. For anyone with persistent and lingering pain that has not gotten better and/or is aggravating by any of the following, make sure to seek professional advice from your doctor, chiropractor, or physiotherapist.
Ice Ice Baby!
One of the primary steps to help relieve neck pain in the first few days is to apply ice. Now although heat is comforting and feels better, it usually isn't the best solution in the early stages of an injury or flare up. Ice will help reduce some of the initial inflammation and help reduce pain and discomfort.
General guidelines for icing
Never apply directly on your skin, use a thin towel to wrap your ice pack
Apply for 10-20 minutes at a time taking 2 hour breaks up to 3-4x/day
Do not apply ice when going to sleep
After the initial pain and discomfort starts to subside, we want to slowly incorporate gentle movement to help restore normal range of motion and blood flow.
Stretches for neck pain
Below we have included 4 easy stretches to improve neck function and flexibility. This will also serve as a test to determine which movements may need to be avoided completely or modified until the neck feels better. Most of these stretches will feel great and help further reduce pain and stiffness. If any particular movement or stretch increases pain, stop immediately.
Aim for 6-10 repetitions for each exercise.
Neck Extension (Backward Bending)
Gently extend the neck by looking upward while keeping the shoulders and back stationary. Hold for 2-3 seconds before returning to neutral position. Only extend within comfort, it should not cause pain.
During this exercise, the stretch is felt along the front of the neck through the throat. The posterior (back) neck muscles may also be felt.
Neck Flexion (Forward Bending)
Slowly bring your chin toward your chest and look downward within your comfort zone. Again, hold the stretch for 2-3 seconds before returning to neutral.
The stretch will be felt throughout the back of the neck.
Lateral Neck Flexion (Bending Side to Side)
Slowly bend the head to one side, such as by bringing the left ear toward the left shoulder. Remember to keep your shoulders neutral and do not raise them. Once the head is flexed, hold for 2-3 seconds before returning the head to neutral. Repeat in the opposite direction.
Neck Rotation (Turning Side to Side)
From neutral, slowly turn your head to the left as far as it can go without increasing pain. Hold for 2-3 seconds before returning to neutral. Repeat in the opposite direction.
It is extremely important to remember that these stretches should NOT increase or aggravate pain. Please only move within your comfort zone and slowly increase movements with time.
See a chiropractor!
As chiropractors we see individuals for neck pain each and every day. When the joints in the neck are moving freely people tend to experience less tightness, stiffness, and pain.
Some chiropractors also focus on improving posture. Posture has a huge impact on the amount of neck pain and discomfort that people experience. With poor posture, especially posture where the neck is forward compared to the shoulders (we call this "text neck" or "anterior head carriage"), the muscles, tissues, and ligaments are working overtime to keep the head upright and looking forward. By improving posture, people naturally experience less pain and discomfort throughout their bodies.
Want to learn more about how to prevent flare ups or deal with persistent or lingering discomfort? Or how chiropractic can help you live a pain free life and improve your posture? Make sure to book a complimentary consultation!