Last week we discussed the common causes of that stubborn neck pain. Whether it be your job that requires excessive sitting, or less than perfect sleeping positions, neck pain is one of the largest complaints we are hearing from patients. So let's talk about a few at-home solutions to aid in eliminating the discomfort.
1. Chin tucks and chair stretches. Our suboccipital muscles (the ones at the base of your skull) become extremely tight due to our head being out in front of our bodies. The best way to stretch these guys out is to activate the muscles that pull our head back over the center of our shoulders. So basically give yourself a double chin. Feel that nice stretch behind your head? These muscles are a huge contributor to headaches and neck pain so embrace the not-so-flattering position and give yourself some relief. I do these not only while sitting at work but also while driving. Since I have a longer commute to and from work, it gives me plenty of time to either help or harm my posture and I take advantage of every second to undo my poor posture during the day. So if you pull up next to me at a stop light and see my perfectly straight neck and double chin position, make sure to wave ;) Another great stretch is to grab the seat of your chair while sitting with one hand, then lean your head to the opposite side giving yourself a good trapezius stretch. I like to count to 15 slowly then switch to the other side. If it is an extra-long day of sitting, I will move my hand placement to either the front corner or back corner of my seat and tilt my head the opposite diagonal direction to get a deeper stretch and include more muscles.
2. Rolled up towel. This one is a little harder to do at work so I use this technique at home since I need to lay on the floor. But who says you can’t use the floor space in your cubicle or office to get a good relaxing stretch in!?! All you need is a hand towel from your bathroom. Fold it long ways (or hotdog style) then roll it up like a cinnamon roll (gluten free of course). While lying flat on the floor, not a couch or bed, place the roll under the curvature of your neck. This allows gravity to work with the weight of your head to stretch out the muscles that are too tight and holding your head further out in front of our body than it is supposed to be. We suggest starting out with just 1-2 minutes in this position a day then adding a minute each day until you are able to lay there comfortably for 25-30 minutes. You will be amazed at how useful those hand towels can be when it comes to your neck pain!
3. Trigger point therapy. Feel those sore, tender knots in your upper shoulders? Those are called trigger points. These occur when blood flow becomes stagnant and fibrotic tissue forms. Trigger points are caused by a muscle being taken past its limitation whether it be weight, length, or duration aka sitting all day or carrying a child. The best way to deal with them is to apply pressure, allowing the tissue to break apart. You can do this yourself or if you have a willing helper they can press on the trigger point for you. I also find it helps to lean your head back and to the side of the trigger point before pressing, then once the pressure is applied, slowly look down and to the opposite side. This further stretches the muscle therefore increasing the breakup of the tissue.
Dr. Hester and I see a huge correlation in patients' responses to care with how dedicated they are to doing their homework exercises. We only see you for a small fraction of your week, so the rest of the time we need you helping with your care as well to reach a true FIX to your pain. If you are ready to commit to ending your neck pain once and for all, call us now to schedule an appointment. You won't regret it! 623.551.6677
Dr. Brian Hester, originally from Alabama, graduated from Life University in 1999 with his Doctorate of Chiropractic. He moved to Anthem, Arizona in 2003 and opened his wellness center. Dr. Hester's mission is to provide people in the North Phoenix area, with the tools they need to identify stressors in their life and the underlying causes of their health challenges. With Dr. Hester as a health partner, patients can make positive lifestyle changes and take control of their lives...... see more
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