One Simple Trick to Relieve Neck Pain
The Most Common Culprit
Neck pain and stiffness is one of the most common conditions that I treat in the clinic. Most of the time, the cause is related to long hours sitting in the same posture--most of the time at a desk--with the head forward. With a large majority of us stuck at our desks all day, its no wonder neck pain is so common.
When the head comes forward, it places stresses on the ligaments and supporting structures around the neck. Over time, this can lead to stretching of those structures and creating an imbalance in the joints and muscles in the neck area. This can lead to stiffness, pain, and headaches.
How do I know if this is me? I think I have good posture...
Some people appear to get away with poor posture without ever having any pain, while others develop neck and shoulder pain within a very short amount of time. A good way to tell if your posture is a contributing factor to your neck pain is to understand when you are feeling pain or stiffness. If you notice that your pain or stiffness is worse at the end of the day or after sitting for a while, there is a good chance it is related to your sitting position.
In the early stages of neck problems, there is often a sensation of stiffness in the neck area or into the upper shoulders. Most of the time, this stiffness comes and goes and people often notice a bit of tightness as they perform activities that require neck rotation (such as checking your blind spot while driving).
So if our sitting position is a problem, then it would make sense to change our positions often or get ourselves out of the position that brings on our symptoms. It turns out, that for 80% of people this is exactly what works. Essentially, you are doing the opposite of the poor sitting posture that made your neck sore in the first place. However, simply sitting up taller at your desk is not enough to completely resolve your symptoms.
Instead, we have a specific exercise that can help address the root cause of the neck stiffness and pain. Performed correctly, this stretch will do wonders to correct the underlying cause.
Now, onto the exercise. You should feel a mild stretch at the back of the neck when you perform the exercise in the video below. Many people feel immediate relief in their neck pain or stiffness following a cycle of 10 repetitions. If you feel better after doing this, repeat this exercise every two hours while you are awake until the pain is gone.
Caution: This is an exercise for people with minor pain or stiffness. Do not perform this exercise if you have symptoms that radiate into your shoulder blade, arm, or hand.
Staying Better for Good
Learning how to maintain a good sitting posture, strengthening muscles around your shoulder blade, and getting some hands on mobilizations and manual therapy to the joints and muscles to improve any imbalances is part of how physiotherapy can help you stay better for the long run.
Who are Physiotherapists?
Physiotherapists are university trained medical professionals qualified to assess and treat the conditions that are affecting the body’s movement system and function, and prescribe therapeutic exercise to sustain improved mobility. They are experts in treating back and neck conditions.
Nadir Mawji is a registered physiotherapist at The Clinic. You can learn more about him here.