If you have neck pain, there are a number of possible causes. One of the most common causes that we see at our cervical spine practice in New Jersey is weakness of the neck and upper back muscles. These essential muscles are there to support the head – usually around 11 pounds – and without proper support, that weight can pull the muscles forward and cause pain.
The good news is that this particular issue can be easily addressed without the need for medication or surgical intervention: all that’s needed is dedication and commitment to doing strengthening exercises as prescribed. Here is a list of some of the most effective exercises that will provide you with relief. The more regularly that you do them, the better you are likely to feel.
• The Wall – Stand with your back pressed flat against a wall. Your feet should be aligned under your hips, about 4” from the wall. Press the back of your head against the wall and make sure that your lower back touches the wall as well. Extend your arms out at shoulder height, pressing the back of your hands, arms, and elbows against the wall and then move the arms up over your head without losing contact of the wall. Move your arms back down to shoulder height. Repeat 10 times.
• The Prone Cobra – This exercise will not only relieve neck and upper back pain, but will also improve your posture. Lay flat on your stomach with your forehead resting on the ground or a towel, arms laying along your sides and hands extended towards your hips. Keeping your arms straight, squeeze your shoulder blades together and roll your hands so that your palms are facing out and your thumbs are turned up towards the ceiling. Lift your forehead up off of the ground an inch or two while looking down at the floor and hold the position for 10 seconds. Repeat ten times.
• The Chin Tuck – This exercise feels awkward but can address neck pain due to weakness quickly. Standing straight and looking forward, pull your head backwards on your neck, trying to align your chin with your spine. Hold for five seconds and release. This exercise can be done while seated or standing, but in order to learn the motion correctly it may help to first do it while standing with your back and spine pressed flat against a wall, then pulling your head backwards until it touches the wall.
When you make an appointment with our cervical spine practice, we will evaluate the cause of your pain, including checking the strength of these muscles. If we believe that you can benefit from this type of conservative treatment, we will prescribe a course of physical therapy sessions so that you can learn these exercises properly, as well as a series of stretches and other practices to provide you with pain relief. Call us today to set up an appointment and put yourself on the road to recovery.