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Strategies for Neck Pain

Girl stretching neck

One of the most common complaints we see in the office is neck pain usually due to the amount of screen time we all endure at work and at home. Anatomical variations that people are born with will either increase the risk of having neck pain or decrease the risk, but it helps to have some strategies for coping even if you start to experience some “tightness.” As we all know, tightness can progress into pain so here are some strategies to combat neck pain before it becomes a chronic problem.

  1. Get up and move. Take breaks from screens whenever possible. Every twenty or thirty minutes is an opportunity to get out of the desk, couch, chair etc. and allow yourself to move around. Simply taking some time to get your neck and spine out of a stationary position will help your muscles recover from a stagnant posture.

  2. Light neck mobility. Simple flexion (looking down), extension (looking up), rotation (looking to the left or right), and lateral flexion (leaning your head to either shoulder) stretches can be enough to help your musculature also recover. If taking a break isn’t possible, give your neck a light, easy stretch to improve recovery.

  3. Neck circles or Controlled Articular Rotations. Many patients in our office are probably familiar with these, but if you are not they involve moving your neck in a full circle under light tension at its most basic level. Imagine that you are pushing your neck through water as you make as wide of a circle as you can in both directions. This can be done as little or as much as needed to help alleviate fatigue. The added tension will provide a neurological benefit as well.

  4. Neck stability exercises. Our favorite is a simple elevated chin tuck. Lay on your back, tuck your chin (make a double chin) and lift your head an inch or two off of the ground. Hold it there until fatigue sets in. If you do it correctly, all of the musculature in the back of your neck and upper back will relax giving you multiple benefits. Number one, your musculature will be given time to recover and number two, you will be strengthening your neck stabilizers which will alleviate the strain on the back of your neck leading to reduced pain and tension.

The next time you are sitting at your desk or looking at your phone and thirty minutes goes by, give one of these strategies a try. Your neck will thank you!


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