Beat Neck And Shoulder Tension With These Tools
From improved performance to reducing injury many of you already know the benefits of warming up muscle groups before and after activities. How often do we stretch our neck and shoulders? As in making a specific point to not just when they feel tight? If you are a gym goer or play sports, you may have your own routine but for most of us unless you are specifically training these areas we generally dont pay as much attention to the neck and shoulder area as we do to those larger muscle groups.
For most people the only time we tend to stretch or massage the neck and shoulders is when we feel them! Once the tension and stiffness are at a point that we need to do something. Sitting at that desk may not be the gym but there is a lot of use those areas get in performing repetitive tasks. Other factors like poor posture or even the wrong pillow when sleeping can all add to tension building up without you realizing until you are showing symptoms.If you suffer from aches, pain and stiffness in your neck and shoulders right now, there are a number of easy ways to relieve symptoms and keep things from building up in the future.Start by being mindful, make a point of doing a stretch here and there, use that massager on the couch at night and youll see a consistent approach to treating tension becomes simple habit before long.
Here at Lifepro we have some ideas that will help ease that pain and tension in minimal time and with less effort on your part.
How To Soothe A Sore Neck
Neck pain essentials include icing and heat, gentle therapeutic exercise, and good posture.
Sore neck? Its pretty common. And most men get neck pain for the same reasons they suffer low back pain. In the vast majority of people, its routine muscle strain and sprain, says Dr. Robert Shmerling, associate professor of medicine at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. The neck has to support that heavy bowling ball on top.
The remedies for neck and back pain also have some things in common. First, ease the early intense pain with rest, ice, and heat; then move on to gentle stretching and strengthening exercises. Later, avoid bad posture and other habits that could trigger another neck pain crisis.
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Neck Pain With Arm Pain
Neck pain may be associated with severe pain radiating down the arm as far as the hand which is known as radicular pain. Many people will suffer with neck pain at some point in their adult life. A small percentage will experience pressure on the nerve root adjacent to the disc. This nerve root pressure results in the severe pain radiating down the arm. 90% will resolve without specialist input and more
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Mobilization And Stretching Exercises For Neck Pain
Neck pain exercise: stretches your neck muscles
Sit comfortably on the floor or on a chair. Place your right hand on your head and gently pull it to the side. Your back should stay straight and your shoulders relaxed. Switch sides after about a minute.
Time: one minute per side
Note: to increase the stretch of the neck and neck muscles, move the opposite hand sideways toward the floor. Try other head flexion and rotation positions to reach all of the neck and neck muscles.
Neck pain exercise: stretches your chest muscles
Time: one to two minutes
Note: in order to increase the stretching and mobilization of the exercise for neck pain, you can turn to the opposite side over the thoracic spine.
Shoulder/neck exercise: mobilizes your spine
Start on all fours with your head in line with your spine. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders and your hips directly over your knees. Round your upper back the next time you exhale. The movement comes from your entire spine. Pull your navel inward and bring your chin to your chest. When you inhale, lower your back and look up at the sky.
Note: with this neck pain exercise, you mobilize both the lumbar, thoracic and cervical spine. Combined breathing enables you to mobilize your diaphragm at the same time.
Cervical Discs: Your Natural Shock Absorbers
The cervical spine in your neck is made up of seven bones called vertebrae, which are separated by discs filled with a cushioning gel-like substance. Your cervical discs both stabilize your neck and allow it to turn smoothly from side to side and bend forward to back. “Without discs, the spine would be very stiff,” explains Kee Kim, MD, associate professor of Neurological Surgery and chief of Spinal Neurosurgery at the University of California at Davis. “Discs allow our body to move in the way that we want. They also provide cushion for the body, acting as a shock absorber.”
Over time, these natural shock absorbers become worn and can start to degenerate. The space between the vertebrae narrows and nerve roots become pinched. This process is known as cervical degenerative disc disease. Research finds that about 25% of people without symptoms under age 40, and 60% over age 40 have some degree of degenerative disc disease. As degenerative disc disease progresses, the neck becomes less flexible, and you may feel neck pain and stiffness, especially towards the end of the day.
When the disc breaks open or bulges out, putting pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots, it is known as a herniated disc or “slipped disc.” Although cervical disc disease is generally a slow process, a herniated disc sometimes can occur quickly after an injury or trauma to the neck.
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What Are Common Neck Pain Causes
Neck pain tends to peak in middle age, and is slightly more common in women and in patients with a family history of neck pain, says NYC-based interventional pain physician and physiatrist, Benjamin Bonte, MD. Smokers, patients with psychological diagnoses such as depression and anxiety, and patients with a sedentary lifestyle are also more at risk.
Neck pain is most common in people over the age of 50. But beyond good old aging, the causes of neck pain are as varied as the list is long. Speaking of heres a list of some of the more common causes of neck pain:
- Injury and Accidents:
- Whiplash is a common neck injury sustained when the head is forced to move backward and/or forward beyond the normal range of motion. The unnatural and rapid movement of the neck affects the muscles and ligaments, which tighten and contract. This creates muscle fatigue resulting in pain and stiffness. Whiplash is most commonly sustained due to a car accident, but can also result from traumas such as a fall or a sports accident.
- Nerve Compression: When a nerve becomes compressed, it can cause pain that moves up into the head, behind the eyes, into the jaw, down the arms, says Dr. Penhollow. Herniated discs are the most common cause of nerve compression and spinal stenosis , but bone spurs can also compress nerves.
The most common types of neck pain.
There are different neck pain profiles. Some people experience only one type, while others experience a combination.
Is Heat The Cure
Unfortunately, there is no definitive cure for neuropathy because it can be the result of so many causes. Sometimes these nerve pains can improve over time with treatment or as the body heals on its own. However, there is no way to tell if this will take months or years. Sometimes the pain will get better, but sometimes the pain can get worse.
People have tried many different ways to treat this pain. For foot neuropathy, some people like to soak their feet in a warm bath because the warm water can soothe the pain. The warmth can increase blood flow to the afflicted area temporarily, and it can alleviate muscles that are tense and stressed. Just make sure that the temperature is warm and not very hot. Test the water temperature with your hands if your legs are the parts afflicted. So, if someone asks you Is heat good for neuropathy, you can suggest a soothing soak in warm water for temporary relief.
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Preventing And Living With Neck Pain
While avoiding neck pain isnt always possible, you can keep your neck muscles strain- and stress-free by creating healthy habits. Instead of in front of a computer all day, for example, take stretch breaks throughout the day.
If your neck pain feels worse at the end of each day, consider your posture. Are you sitting up straight? Sitting in your chair with your feet flat on the floor?
If your neck pain feels worse in the morning, check your sleep position and pillow. Use a pillow that supports your neck and keeps it straight. Avoid sleeping on your stomach with your neck twisted, if possible.
What if you go to sleep feeling fine and wake up with neck pain? Daily life can take its toll on your neck. If you wake up with neck pain, the best thing to do is give your body time to heal on its own. To get through the day without letting the pain interfere with your normal activities, you have a few options.
- Gently stretch your neck: the Spine Universe Exercise Center offers a video with 3 neck stretches and exercises to help relieve a stiff neck.
- Take over-the-counter pain medications, such as Tylenol or Advil.
- Alternate between heat and ice treatments on your neck: 20 minutes of heat followed by 20 minutes of ice should help relieve the pain and expedite the healing process.
- Rest: take a few days off from any strenuous activities that aggravate your symptoms, such as sports and heavy lifting.
Already dealing with neck pain?
Take Care When You Sleep
Dr. Bang says if your neck is bothering you, you also should pay attention to your sleep positions. Sleep only on your side or on your back never on your stomach, he says.
When you sleep on your stomach, often you will end up twisting your head one way or the other for hours at a time, Dr. Bang says. Sleeping on your stomach also can affect your low back because your belly sinks in to the bed if you dont have enough support.
For minor, common causes of neck pain, try these simple remedies:
- Apply heat or ice to the painful area. Use ice for the first 48 to 72 hours, then use heat after that. Heat may be applied with warm showers, hot compresses or a heating pad. Be sure not to fall asleep with a heating pad or ice bag in place to avoid skin injuries.
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
- Keep moving, but avoid jerking or painful activities. This helps calm your symptoms and reduce;inflammation.
- Do slow range-of-motion exercises, up and down, side to side, and from ear to ear. This helps to gently stretch the neck muscles.
- Have a partner gently massage the sore or painful areas.
- Try sleeping on a firm mattress without a pillow or with a special neck pillow.
- Ask your health care provider about using a soft neck collar to relieve discomfort. Dont use the collar for a long time. Doing so can make your neck muscles weaker.
If the pain gets in the way of your daily activities, Dr. Bang says to call your doctor.
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What To Do About Cervical Disc Disease
Even if you have degenerative disc disease or a slipped disc, chances are good that you’ll be able to treat it without surgery. The first line in treatment for cervical disc disease is over-the-counter pain medications, including acetaminophen , and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen . These medications can help reduce pain and inflammation. Your doctor might prescribe steroids or narcotic painkillers if over-the-counter medications aren’t working.
Physical therapy is another treatment option for cervical disc disease. The therapist can use cervical traction, or gently manipulate your muscles and joints to reduce your pain and stiffness. The physical therapist can also help you increase your range of motion and show you exercises and correct postures to help improve your neck pain.
Your neck pain should improve with these conservative treatments. If you also have significant numbness or weakness, contact your doctor right away. You and your doctor will need to consider the next step in your treatment. Surgery is a treatment option, and deciding whether you need it is often a subjective process.
Stretching Can Keep Pain At Bay
Putting your monitor at eye level, sitting up straight and avoiding tilting and twisting your head down or to the side while youre on the computer can help you avoid neck pain. When youre driving or looking at your smart phone, be sure to take frequent breaks and avoid having your neck bent forward for long periods of time, Dr. Bang says.
The key to relief for a stiff neck is proper stretching and manipulation, Dr. Bang says. Here are some stretches;you can try at your desk or in the car that;may help you to avoid a stiff neck:
- Roll your shoulders backwards and down 10 times.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together 10 times.
- Push your head backwards into your car head rest or hands and hold for 30 seconds.
- Bring your ear to your shoulder 10 times on each side.
Adjusting Your Posture To Prevent Neck And Shoulder Pain
It might not be obvious, but posture has a cascading effect on other parts of the body. Paying attention to your core strength and lower back can ease strain on your neck and shoulders.
Take the wall test to adjust your standing posture.
- Stand with your head, shoulder blades, and buttocks touching the wall
- Keep your heels around 2 to 4 inches away from the wall
- Put your hand behind the curve in your back and touch the wall with your palm
Your hand should fit neatly inside of this space.
- If the fit is too loose, tighten your abdominal muscles
- If its too tight, arch your back
Remember what it feels like when you find the right spot. This is the standing posture you want to maintain as much as possible. Do the wall test daily as many times as you need to.
Adjust your sitting posture
If you spend a lot of time behind a desk, fixing your sitting posture is especially important.
- Avoid crossing your legs
When Should I Be Concerned About Shoulder And Arm Pain
Unexplained shoulder and arm pain can sometimes be a warning sign of a heart attack. A heart attack is a medical emergency. People should see a doctor if they are concerned about pain in the right shoulder and arm. The doctor will work to diagnose the underlying issue and provide appropriate treatment.
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How Should I Sleep With Neck And Shoulder Pain
Have the bottom pillow supporting your shoulders and the top pillow supporting your neck. Hug a pillow, as this will put your top shoulder in an open position. Tuck the pillow up high under the arm. Use a pillow between your legs when you are on your side, or behind your thighs if lying on your back.
What Are The Symptoms Of Back And Neck Pain
Symptoms linked to back pain may include:
- Dull, burning, or sharp pain in your back.;The pain can be limited to a single spot or cover a large area.
- Leg numbness or tingling above or below your knee
- Stiffness or aching that occurs anywhere along your spine from your neck to your tailbone
- Sharp, shooting pain that spreads;from your low back to your buttocks, down the back of;your thigh, and into your calf and toes
- Consistent ache in the middle or lower part of your back, especially after standing or sitting for a long period
Loss of bladder and bowel control with weakness in both legs are symptoms of a serious condition that needs medical attention right away.
Symptoms linked to neck pain can be:
- Arm numbness or tingling
- Shoulder pain
- Sharp shooting pain or a dull ache in your neck
Pain that occurs suddenly in your back or neck from an injury is acute pain. Acute pain comes on quickly and may leave sooner than chronic back or neck pain. This type of pain should not last more than 6 weeks.
Pain that may come on quickly or slowly and lingers for 3 months or more is chronic pain. Chronic pain is less common than acute pain.
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Stretching And Strengthening For Neck And Shoulder Pain
Stretching and strengthening help relieve pain and also build up muscle support to prevent future injuries. These gentle exercises should not make you feel any additional pain, so if they do, stop right away and consult a healthcare professional.
Here are three simple stretches to relieve neck pain.
Use these stretches as a warm up to your strengthening exercises.
Here are two exercises to help prevent future neck pain and injuries:
Squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for 5 seconds. Dont squeeze too hard; it should feel comfortable. Repeat 10 times twice a day.
Keeping your neck in a neutral position, do a wall pushup with your feet shoulder-width apart and your elbows straight. Repeat 10 times with 1 to 2 sets. Do this twice a day.
Stretching exercises for shoulder pain
These stretching exercises help loosen up the tight muscles that cause pain and can improve flexibility to prevent future injuries.