We have all been there before. Awake at 3am, suffering from a sudden onset of ‘stiff neck’ syndrome. Here are a few “pain in the neck” remedies that will help you and your head get back to dream land. Nagging pain is especially inconvenient when life is on the move. Whether you are at work, or on vacation, there is no time for discomforts, especially near the spine.
Unfortunately, suffering from neck pain can be associated with many different things. As always, if you are experiencing extraordinary discomfort seek medical attention immediately. Given the sensitive nature of the cervical spine it is best to take a rest from all strenuous activities.
Even if you are in the middle of a 12 week boot camp it is advised to heal any neck issues before continuing with a workout plan. This advice also extends not just to physically demanding activities like H.I.I.T., Zumba, Boxing etc, but includes strength training exercises too. The worst thing one can do when suffering from any pain, especially in the neck, is to create more tension in the muscles surrounding the affected area.
There are many different reasons why people suffer from neck pain. Some are serious, like misaligned vertebrae, however, for the sake of this article we will be examining muscle related tension that can cause neck pain.
What can you do to ease the pain quickly and effectively? More stretching and or yoga, of course. Incorporating regular yoga and stretching into a workout plan helps to release muscle tension and elongate tight areas in the body. Yoga and stretching is the perfect practice for pain relief.
Before diving into an asana (aka yoga pose) it is best to learn what muscles surround the tender areas. Since we are discussing neck pain specifically, we will be looking at all the muscles in the cervical spine area. The muscles that are responsible for rotating, extending and hyperextending the neck are usually tense. However, it is very common to have tense muscles in the lower back, hamstrings and hips, which greatly affect neck mobility too.
Always be extra careful when moving the neck. Take deep breaths throughout the routine and stop if the discomfort worsens.
The Neck Rotation
- While in a seated position take two deep breaths, on the last exhale slowly lower the neck down towards the chest.
- During the next inhale slowly rotate the head to the right shoulder. The right ear will be directly above the right shoulder. Take two breaths in this position.
- During the last exhail turn your nose towards the right shoulder. For an extra stretch, you may gently place the right hand on or near the left ear. Do not pull the neck. Just gently relax into this pose for 2 breaths
- On the last exhale release the right hand back down and rotate the neck back towards the chest (chin to chest).
- Repeat the same movements on the left side.
The Shoulder Shrug
- This is as simple as it sounds. While sitting on the floor with crossed legs, move the shoulders up towards the ears.
- Hold for 2-3 breaths then release.
- Repeat this move 2-3 times.
The Upper Back Stretch
- While in a seated position stretch your arms directly out in front of you. Place the right palm on top of the back of the left hand and drop your head forward.
- Breath into the curve of your upper spine while keeping the core muscles engaged.
- Hold for 2-3 breaths then release.
- Repeat with the left palm on top of the back of the right hand.
- Take a deep inhale, raise the arms up in the sky, gently looking upwards if the neck permits, then dive forward reaching for the toes. Assuming your upper back is tense, only go as far as comfortable. This pose is a gentle muscle release. There may be some discomfort, but avoid unbearable pain.
- While in ‘forward fold’ with your hands grab onto the opposite elbow (left hand to right elbow, right hand to left elbow).
- Let the head hang loose in between the folded arms.
- Slowly nod up and down, and then slowly turn the neck to the left and right.
- Breath deeply into any discomfort. Hold this pose for 5-10 breaths before releasing.
- Repeat several times in a row, several times a day to relieve neck tension.
Threading the Needle Pose
- Start in childs pose for 2 full and deep breaths
- During the last exhale move into table top position. Inhale and curve the spin towards the ceiling into Cat Pose. When ready to exhale lower the belly button towards the ground and gaze forward for Cow Pose. Repeat 3 times. Then hold table top position for 2 more breaths.
- On the next inhale slowly raise the right hand up towards the sky. When ready to exhale move the hand back down towards the ground through the space between the knee and left hand.
- Move the chin towards the chest and place the back of the right shoulder and back of the right side of the head onto the ground.
- Keep looking towards the belly button as you square the hips and keep the feet parallel.
- Take a few deep breaths then release back to table top position. Repeat this pose on the left side.
The best way to cure neck tension is to keep an upright posture throughout the day. Sitting for long periods of time on the computer or in traffic may aggravate many issues including neck discomfort.
Invest in posture correcting office chairs, and research the best ways to organize your office desk to avoid the infamous ‘hunchback’ curve.
Most importantly, invest in shoes that support the spine, while avoiding shoes with steep inclines.
How To Avoid Recurring Neck Pain
If you would like to rid yourself of neck pain once and for all, stretch regularly! Incorporating a full body stretch once, twice or even three times a day will greatly improve posture, flexibility and increase happy moods.
There is nothing more exciting to those who suffer from chronic discomfort, then to living a pain free life.