By Carmen Barwinski - September 3, 2020
What’s the Pain in Your Neck?
With the amazing progressions in technology we have in the world life has become fast paced and focused! Unfortunately, this has also led to an increase of neck pain as well.
Is neck pain normal? What is causing the pain to occur? What can decrease symptoms after they start? How does posture play into neck pain?
Is Neck Pain Normal?
Common, but not normal. Though the majority of the population experience neck pain at some point in their life, neck pain is very avoidable and takes a few minutes of stretching and exercising a day to help decrease aching, soreness, and pain.
What is Causing the Pain to Occur?
Depending on where the neck pain is, the problem could be coming from disk dysfunction, muscle/ligament sprain/strain, overuse, or increased stress.
Degenerative changes can occur with age which decrease the space between each vertebra and can increase pressure on nerves or cause joints to lack the room needed to move comfortably. The muscles/ligaments can become sprained/strained through impacts and/or sudden movements, such as a car accident or fall.
Overuse and increased stress can correlate and become present through bad posture, movement mechanics; including “forward head” posture, “text neck”, always leaning to one side, or carrying a heavy purse/backpack/tool kit on one side. All of these can lead to not just pain in the neck, but down the arms and into the head as well.
What can Decrease Symptoms After They Start?
When it comes to neck pain completing some simple exercises can help improve the flexibility and relieve muscle tension to decrease irritation?
Upper trapezius stretch: Keeping your nose straight forward tilt your ear to your shoulder until a stretch is felt on the side opposite of the head tilt.
Levator scapulae stretch: Rotate your head where you can towards one shoulder, then tilt your chin downward (moving your nose towards your armpit) till a stretch is felt opposite of the head tilt.
Scapular retractions: Keeping your shoulders away from your head squeeze your shoulder blades together, hold and then relax. Do NOT pull out of the movement, just let it relax out to avoid reinforcing bad posture habits.
Speaking of which, check your POSTURE! Keep yourself from letting your chin drift forward or upward and avoid rounding your back out.
Important to remember: consult with a physical therapist or doctor to avoid injuries from occurring further. The best place to start is with posture corrections and setting up your work station ergonomically.
How to Work on Your Posture?
What the picture above is demonstrating is how much stress and pressure goes through your ligaments and muscles in the neck when the typical “tv/desk” posture is assumed. Use strategies to remind yourself to posture up, keeping those shoulders away from your head and chest opened. Some ideas to try would include putting on a colorful bracelet and every time you see it have it be your reminder to stand/sit up tall. This can be extended to anything you see throughout the day; red light, white car, get an email/call/text, etc. Make it so you remember!
Remember to refer to your doctor and physical therapist to collaborate and achieve your best outcome for pain reduction and functionality!