Do you have a pain in your neck? Do you wake up with stiffness and soreness in the region of your neck? Can you look over your shoulder with ease?
Tips to Improve Neck Pain
Here are some things to look out for if you are mildly suffering from neck pain. (Obviously if it is chronic it’s time to see a professional.)
- Readjust your position at the computer or desk. Head should be balanced above your spine with your bum back in the chair and your two feet squarely on the ground. In other words, don’t lean forward with just your head when working. Hands should be lower than elbows.
- If you have to use the telephone daily in your work, make sure you switch sides occasionally or use a head set.
- For women who carry bags on their shoulders, give one side a break now and again and alternate which shoulder is carrying the burden. Or better yet, switch to a backpack designed to distribute weight to your hips.
- Always, when lifting, bend at your hips and knees, not at your back. When lifting a weight over your head be sure not to tilt your head back. Use the strength in your arms.
- Exercise. It’s proven to relieve chronic stress and pain.
Strength Training Exercises Reduce Pain
Strength training exercises designed specifically for the neck have been shown to significantly reduce chronic neck pain. In a study of women with work-related neck pain, the participants reported great relief from targeted exercises for the neck. Only women whose complaints were associated with trapezius myalgia, that is, chronic pain and tightness in the muscles that run down the back of the neck and fan out towards the shoulders, were included in the study. In addition, they had to have been experiencing neck pain for more than a year. The successful findings of the report from Denmark was published in a journal called Arthritis Care & Research. Since then further work has confirmed results.
The women were divided into three groups.
- One group were instructed in strength training exercises focusing on the neck and shoulder muscles
- One group did general fitness training, which also included stationary cycling without holding the handlebars
- The third group underwent health counseling
Strength Training Improves Flexibility
The exercise groups exercised three times a week for 20 minutes. The study lasted 10 weeks. The first group reported a 75% decrease in pain. The second exercise group’s response was only marginally positive and likewise with the group who received health counseling. The study showed that strengthening the muscles helped the women to use their necks with greater ease and the increased muscle strength in their necks helped to redistribute onto stronger muscles the stress of daily activities.
- The Dumbell Shrug. Standing straight, feet shoulder-width apart, holding a weight in each hand, let your hands drop to your sides, and shrug the shoulders upward, hold and lower. Repeat 8-12 times.
- Lateral Rise. Same position as above, with weights, raise the arms straight out to the sides and parallel with the floor, elbows slightly bent, and slowly lower
- Upright Row. Standing straight, feet shoulder-width apart, hold the weights by your thighs and slowly bring the weights up as if you were zipping up a jacket, and slowly lower.
Using weights of 2kg – 5kg with repetitions of 8-12, these simple weight-bearing and strengthening exercises can help slow the process of aging and the loss of strength that comes with it.
As has been shown time and again exercise can significantly help reduce chronic pain. Most pain originates in the misuse and overuse of muscles and ligaments. Correct posture and a consciousness of how you perform daily activities can make all the difference.