Staying active, getting outdoors, and keeping up with your daily exercise are all good for your mental and physical health. But sometimes the moves that put an extra spring in your step can go wrong, and can end up leading to discomfort or injury. Of all the different mishaps that can occur on the playing field (or golf course), neck pain is one of the most vexing. This is in large part because there is so little that you can do to fix it, as well as because almost every move you make once your neck or back hurts invites additional pain.
There are a few reasons that exercise can invite neck pain, but most of them have to do with overuse and strain, and this comes from improper posture. People tend to take on an aggressive posture, sticking their chin out when it should be tucked in and neutral, and this means that when they move they stretch the muscles that support the head. This can lead to a dull ache or a headache from strained muscles, but it can also lead to the more serious issue of a pinched nerve.
There are a few sport-specific ways that you can protect yourself from this type of injury and pain, as well as to deal with pain if you’ve already hurt yourself.
• Biking – If you are a cyclist, you are very vulnerable to neck and back pain. The best way to counter the strain of remaining in a hunched over position for an extended period of time is to periodically flex and unflex your shoulders as you’re riding. When you do this you subconsciously correct poor posture, pulling your shoulders down after they’ve ridden up during the course of your right.
• Swimming – If you enjoy swimming, you probably do the same stroke with a degree of regularity. Though a stroke like backstroke or breaststroke keep you centered, freestyle (a/k/a the crawl) tends to develop more muscles on one side of the neck than the other because swimmers always turn their heads to the same side to breathe. You can counter this effect by being conscious of it and changing the side that you breathe on from time to time.
• Golf – Neck strain is a notorious golf injury that is caused by extending your neck while you swing. Golfers can also end up with back pain or neck pain simply as a result of carrying their golf bag around the links. If you remember to tuck your chin in when you’re swinging and change shoulders when you’re carrying your bag, you can save yourself a lot of pain.
If our warnings come too late and you’ve already injured yourself, try some gentle stretches. One popular neck stretch is to bend your head slowly to the side, bringing your ear towards your shoulder and holding for three seconds, then switching sides. Repeat this ten times, slowly and gently.
If stretches and prevention don’t bring relief, contact our office to learn more about how we can help.