A pain in the neck ?
Neck pain is one of the most common conditions that patients seek physiotherapy assistance with.
This is not surprising given the constant amount of prolonged head down positions and modern technology use.
Why does this happen?
Your head is heavy and balanced on a narrow support made up of seven bones called vertebrae The vertebrae are separated by discs, stabilised by small joints and ligaments, under the control of postural muscles. We can conduct a postural assessment using our posture screen app that will calculate the weight of your head determined by its position on your neck.
The neck serves as a flexible connection between your head and the rest of your body and this slim structure is prone to problems that can compromise motion and lead to neck pain.
There are many causes of neck pain including trauma - often road accidents and sport. However the most common contributing factors are poor posture and muscle imbalance with degenerative changes following on.
With poor posture, the ligaments become over-stretched, muscles become tired and the neck joints and nerves are put under pressure.
Slouching of your shoulders with your head pushed forward, sleeping in awkward positions - see our blog, or working with your head down for long periods, will all tend to cause back pain
What can you do ?- there are some simple ways to help.
- Correct your posture when standing or sitting
- Ensure your workstation or study area is set up properly - see our blog
- Stretch and change position frequently.
- Practice scapular retraction exercises regularly
- Do neck retraction exercises
- Try not to sleep on your stomach.
- Choose a correct pillow for neck support.
- Combat stress with relaxation techniques.
- Exercise regularly.
- Keep moving at work and study - Read on for some whole body everyday exercises to help keep you moving
Lateral Neck Flexion:
Simply flex your neck to the right and then to the left for a set of 10. This exercise should be done while seated.
Forward Neck Flexion:
In a seated position, flex your neck forward for a set of 10.
Turn your head as far as it goes comfortably in each direction 5 each way.
In a seated position, roll your shoulders forward for a set of 10 and then backwards for a set of 10.
Leg Crossover Stretch:
In a seated position, cross your legs and then rotate your upper torso to the side of your top crossed leg. For example, if you cross your right leg over your left leg, then rotate your torso to the right side. Hold this position for 15-30 seconds. Do 2 sets of 5 repetitions on each side.
Seated Leg Extension (Leg Kicks):
In a seated position, extend and kick out one leg in front of you for a set of 20. Next, do the other side for a set of 20.
Single Leg Lifts:
In a seated position, extend one leg in front you and keep it elevated and extended. Lift and hold the extended leg for a set of 20 then do the other side.
Circle Leg Lifts:
In a seated position, with one leg extended in front with your toes pointed, make small circles with your extended leg in one direction then reverse the direction for a set of 5-10 in the opposite direction.
Triceps Chair Push Ups/Dips:
Start at the edge of the chair with your body forward and knees flexed, and then flex your elbows. Next drop your torso downward, then extend your elbows and elevate your torso. Remember to breathe while doing these. Consider 2 sets of 10 repetitions.
Seated calf raises can be done with the toes pointing forward, outward, or inward. While seated with the back straight and shoulders squared, lift your heels and contract your calves. Consider 2 sets of 10 each. These exercises will really help with lower extremity circulation.
Bonus Exercise -
Wall Push Ups Push ups can be done against stable walls (not your cubicle!). Lean against the wall at a 45-degree angle. Consider doing 2 sets of 10-15 repetitions. If your hands are wide, you are working your chest and pectoralis muscles. If your hands are closer, you are exerting more force on the triceps. Wall push ups can be intensified if you flex your elbows during the push up. To really intensify the exercise, you can do the push up from your fingertips or even with one arm.
If you are currently experiencing pain it is advisable to see a health professional before commencing these exercises.
What can physiotherapy do?
We can identify the structures contributing to your neck, head and spinal pain. Stretching and releasing tight muscles, gently mobilising stiff joints, educating and strengthening weak muscles and loads of ergonomic and postural advice.
Don’t let persistent pain interfere with your work,study, sport and lifestyle. See one of our caring physios to help relieve your pain to move and feel better.