Whoever came up with the description of something being a “pain in the neck” didn’t choose the ‘neck’ part of the saying for no reason. We use this of phrase to complain about something bothersome because that’s exactly what neck pain is.
Neck pain is a serious ailment that affects adults and teens. Neck pain can be debilitating, but the good news is that there are treatment options and exercises that can work to alleviate pain and discomfort in the neck.
Causes of Neck Pain
There’s no running away from chronic neck pain. If you’re doing anything other than lying down, you’re using your neck. Your neck connects your head to your shoulders and the rest of your body which means that this small area has a big responsibility! When determining the right treatment options and exercises to relieve neck pain, it’s important to first look at the cause of the pain in your neck.
There are several common causes of neck pain including:
- Injury or sports injuries
- Carrying heavy backpacks
- Poor posture
- Prolonged use of electronics also known as “text neck”
- Sleeping positions
- Narrowing of the spinal canal
- Pinched nerve
- Herniated disc
Neck Pain Relief Exercises
Neck pain is usually obvious but can manifest in different ways. Our body parts are interconnected, which means that if one part is out of alignment or producing discomfort, it can impact other parts of our bodies. Neck pain can impact our bodies through tension headaches, migraine headaches, tingling arms and fingers, shoulder pain, numbness, difficulty sleeping, light-headedness and difficulty swallowing.
If you find yourself constantly twisting your neck around trying to find relief, you may find that a bit of at home stretching and strengthening exercises, in addition to chiropractic treatment for neck pain, could improve your condition. There are several neck stretches meant to specifically provide neck pain relief. As a general rule, it is acceptable to stretch your neck daily but as always, check with your doctor of chiropractor before starting a neck stretching routine. The most popular neck stretches for neck pain relief are the corner stretch and the levator scapulae stretch. Here are three types of exercises that can provide relief for neck pain:
- Aerobic Exercise: Cardiovascular exercise, whether it’s biking, swimming, running, or hiking can provide overall pain relief in your body, including your neck. Aerobic exercise floods our muscles with increased blood flow increasing our range of motion, releasing endorphins, and loosening up tight and sore muscles. If you’re experiencing neck or back pain, aerobic exercise can help relieve your discomfort.
- Corner Neck Stretch: This is a popular stretch to provide neck pain relief by stretching the muscles in the front of the shoulders and check that surround the neck. This stretch can be performed 3 to 5 times per day and should be done before doing any neck strengthening exercises.
To perform the Corner Neck Stretch:
- Stand facing a corner of a room, approximately two feet back, facing into the corner with feet together.
- Place forearms vertically on each wall with elbows slightly below shoulder height
- Lean in to the stretch as far as you can go without pain or significant discomfort. You’ll feel a stretch in the front of the shoulders and chest.
- Hold the stretch for 30 seconds to a minute.
- Levator Scapulae Stretch: This stretch is a more commonly seen stretch that involves stretching your neck from one side to another with the assistance of your hand.
To perform the Levator Scapulae Stretch:
- Sit on a chair with your back straight and abdominal muscles contracted and turn your head 45 degrees to the right.
- Bend your neck toward your right shoulder, letting it fall naturally
- Hold the seat of the chair with your left hand and place your right hand on your head.
- Slowly lean to the right until a stretch is felt. You should feel a stretch on the left side of your neck.
- Hold stretch for 5 seconds and repeat 3 times.
- Repeat the stretch on the left side.
- Chin Tuck Neck Strengthening Exercise: Perhaps one of the most effective activities you can do for neck pain relief is to strengthen it. The stronger your neck is the less pain and discomfort you will generally feel. The chin tuck exercise can be done anywhere at any time of the day and is said to be the most effective. To perform the Chin Tuck:
- Sit on a chair in a neutral position, tuck your chin, and pull your head back and hold for 2 seconds.
- The correct movement mimics the action that a person pushing your chin into your neck would make.
- Release and repeat 3 times.
Remember, at home exercises are a wonderful way to relieve or prevent neck pain but there’s no substitute for a professional chiropractic treatment for neck pain. If you’re suffering from neck pain, make an appointment with a Redondo Beach Chiropractor today.