As a cervical spine practice in New Jersey, many of our neck pain patients are experiencing symptoms brought on by significant injuries or degenerative processes.
But the pain that others feel may be a result of weakness or stiffness that can be addressed with the addition of a few simple exercises and paying greater attention to the way that we walk through the world.
Today more than ever before, people are spending a tremendous amount of time looking down. Blaming it on our phones and digital devices and wishing the discomfort away is not enough.
With the human head weighing (on average) between 10 and 11 pounds, we need to take steps to strengthen the muscles that control and support it in order to avoid both pain and long-term damage caused by the use of today’s technology.
Unfortunately, even the most health-conscious among us pay too little attention to these crucial muscles, and that leaves this highest portion of our spines at risk.
You probably don’t think about your necks at all, right up until the time that it starts to cause pain. Weakness not only leads to neck pain, but that pain can also spread to other areas of the body, including the back, the shoulders, and the jaw. It can lead to headaches and a sapping of energy.
To avoid this outcome, start by paying more attention to your position. Being mindful of when your head is tilted downwards, whether it’s looking at your phone or anything else, and take the time to rethink your position. Lift your phone higher, raise your eyes to the horizon, and practice the old posture game of pretending that you are being held up by a string on the top of your head to keep yourself standing straighter.
In addition, take the time to strengthen, stretch and release your muscles and ligaments using the three exercises below.
To strengthen the muscles that support your neck, try doing chin tucks. These can be done in a couple of different ways, both of which are effective.
For the first, while laying flat on your back, use your fingers to tuck your chin down towards your chest and holding the position for five to ten seconds. This will provide a stretching sensation at the back of your neck and skull that represents activation of all of the muscles in your neck.
You can also do a chin tuck while standing by putting your fingers on your chin and pushing your head backwards (while still holding your head straight) on your shoulders.
Hold this position for a few seconds. Repeat these exercises several times a day.
To stretch the muscles in your neck that most frequently tighten up, stand or sit up straight and then bend your head towards your left shoulder, using your left hand to apply a gentle stretch. Hold for up to thirty seconds and then repeat on the other side.
To release knots in the neck or upper back, trigger point massage is one of the best remedies. Treating yourself to a massage is always a good idea but may prove expensive. Instead, use a foam roller to apply gentle, direct pressure to the area that is causing pain.
If doing these exercises doesn’t provide relief, contact our cervical spine specialist in New Jersey to set up an appointment.