Do you suffer from neck and upper back pain? Here are 3 basic exercises to avoid and prevent neck pain and stiffness.
Have you noticed that you are having a lot of tightness on your neck and your upper back? Does your neck feel very heavy and tired while you are sitting or driving? Do you find your headaches are getting worse? If you have experienced any of these symptoms then one of the common reasons would be your neck muscles have been constantly used up and they are at a point where they need help.
Neck pain is a very common problem. Some of your neck pain might be coming from your spine. However, the most common causes of neck pain come from muscles tightness and spasms. These are the muscles that help you move your neck while you are sitting or driving or when you are in front of the device.
Most of the time your neck pain is the result of not moving it properly and using and holding one movement for a prolonged time, not providing any opportunities to get these muscles back to their resting length. Repeated movement and prolonged sustained movements can really make your neck pain worse. Hence let’s look at some of the basic exercises that provide balance on your upper spine to reduce pain and weakness. Your upper spine includes your upper back and your neck, so let’s go through some of these simple exercises that really work. All you need is a sincere effort from your side to help yourself.
- Chin Tucks
Chin Tucks are very basic exercises. This helps to move the spinal bones that are located higher on your neck. We usually don’t use this movement and use more of the lower bones of the spine during a regular routine like screen time or driving. This movement helps to bring the muscle balance back thereby reducing overworking of the lower spine.
This exercise can be done either by sitting or lying down face up on a flat pillow.
Sit or stand tall and nice, chest forward with your chin pointing straight. This means you are not bending your neck down or up, rather keep your neck straight. To get the correct movement, Imagine there is thread tied back in your neck which is pulling your Chin straight back without bending your neck. Once you are ready and upright gently pull your chin straight back creating that smooth backward movement. This exercise can be explained and taught correctly by your physiotherapist to be more accurate and precise.
- Pinching Your Shoulder Blades
This exercise targets the muscle segment just below your neck. These muscles are a strong foundation that helps to support and move your neck easily. If these muscles are weak and sore your neck does feel tired. The consequence is you cannot hold your neck anymore, feeling tired and exhausted every time. So let’s see how we can do this amazing exercise at home. Again you could sit or stand whatever makes you feel comfortable. Stand tall, keep your chest forward, and avoid slouching on your upper back. Once you get this correct position, bring the knuckles of your elbow close to your body almost leaning at your lateral chest wall. Bend your elbow so that your forearm is parallel with the floors. Once you are in this starting position gradually move your forearm out and away from your body. As you do this, your both shoulder blades start squeezing together. Keep repeating this for 8 to 10 repetitions before you stop Your physiotherapist would be the best person to help you teach these exercises correctly.
- Neck Stretching Sideways
These muscles are present between your shoulder joint and the base of your neck. These are some of those muscles that help to bend your neck sideways.
These muscles if not used correctly can get into spasms and tension very quickly.
It’s important to release them often to avoid building that tightness to an extent that it becomes very uncomfortable for you to sit and work.
Find a comfortable spot and be seated. Keep your chest forward. Now Gently bring one hand behind your back and let that shoulder rest down. Once you are ready with the starting position, bend your neck to the opposite side by dropping your ear lobe down to the opposite shoulder. Hold this position for 5-6 secs and repeat 2-3 times. This stretch helps to maintain the optimal muscle length of the neck and shoulder, especially your upper fibers of the Trapezius muscle. Make a good routine of doing this exercise at least 3-4 times a week. Consult your physiotherapist should you need more clarity on these steps. Remember it’s always good to have yourself assessed by your physiotherapist should you have any pain or discomfort.
NOTE: If you are experiencing pain along with numbness and tingling sensation travelling down from your neck to hands or forearm then, it’s very IMPORTANT you get examined first by your physiotherapist before you try out these exercises.
As a physiotherapist I have had great success treating neck pain. My patients are mostly teachers, Nurses, computer / software professionals and drivers who are now out of this painful cycle of headache and persistent stiffness/ pain. It’s never too late to take care of yourself. We are here to help you with an effective treatment plan with better results.
If you need further help for your ongoing pain then click HERE. If you have underlying issues that make these exercises and steps difficult, be sure to contact us at Action Physiotherapy at 905-457-7475, and let us help you.
We are here to help.
Robert Kappes, Registered Physiotherapist
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- Blog Post written by Bimala Odari (Registered Physiotherapist)