More than 10% of us suffer from neck pain 1. At Eastland Family Chiropractic, your Ringwood chiropractor, we see it all the time. Common causes of neck pain may include: poor posture, bad sleeping habits, automobile and sporting trauma, and even emotional stress 2. In fact, research suggests that when you are stressed you can double your risk of suffering neck pain 2.
At Eastland Family Chiropractic, we aim to self-empower our patients. Below are a few small exercises that you can do to help with your neck pain. If any of these exercises increase your pain, make sure that you stop. Perform each technique slowly and remember to hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds 3.
Side and diagonal neck stretches
These stretches are great for targeting the upper trapezius and levator scapulae muscles, which are commonly tight. Try and relax your shoulders: it is important that you keep them down and away from your ears. If it helps, sit on your hands. Slowly bring your ear towards your shoulder, letting the weight of your head drop slowly to the floor. You should feel a stretch down the side of your neck. You may also like to gently pull your head further with your hand, which should increase the stretch.
To do a diagonal stretch, keep your head tilted, and then slowly turn to look towards your hip on that same side. You should now feel the stretch more towards the back of your neck. Again, you may want to pull your neck further forward with your hand to increase the stretch.
The dorsal glide targets those tight muscles at the back of the neck just beneath the skull. It is also used as a strengthening exercise for the deep neck flexor muscles, commonly weak muscles in those patients with neck pain.
To perform the dorsal glide, tuck your chin in and slowly glide your neck backwards over the rest of your body. Hold for 6 seconds and then relax for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times. This is a great stretch that may be done standing, seated or lying on your back. Do it whilst driving, on the bus or even at your desk!
This stretch looks as though you are trying to make snow angels in the air. It targets tight pectoralis muscles through the front of the chest and the shoulder. Start by making sure you are stood up nice and tall, and perform the dorsal glide to tuck your chin in (see above). Raise your arms to 90 degrees. As you exhale, bring your arms down and behind you. You may feel a pinching in between the shoulder blades, as well as a stretch through the chest. Hold the stretch for 6 seconds and then relax for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
- Fact Sheets 2012 [12/04/2016]. Available from: http://www.gentlecarechironorwest.com.au/fact-sheets/.
- Grimby-Ekman A, Andersson E, Hagberg M. Neck pain and perceived stress: analysing repeated binary outcomes from a cohort study. Occup Environ Med. 2011;68:A116-7.
- WebMD. Neck exercises 2014 [12/04/2016]. Available from: http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/tc/neck-exercises-topic-overview.