Neck Pain: How Stretching and Exercise can help you feel better
Written by Clare Richard, RKIN, MSc, CAT(C), CSCS
With the rise of technology use, work from home and stress of COVID-19, there has also been a rise in neck and upper back pain. Neck pain and stiffness can cause long-term implications including chronic headaches, changes in mobility, and more. Although neck pain is problematic and can affect day-to-day tasks, there are ways to combat the pain and stiffness that you can complete at home.
Neck tension and pain can be caused by a variety of reasons, but commonly weak muscles, poor posture, or a poor desk setup can factor in. With poor posture, our neck and upper back muscles can be strained, therefore drawing the head forwards, and cause rounding in the shoulders. This in turn can affect our cervical (neck) spine joints and intervertebral discs, which are in-between each vertebra. Our daily workstation setup can further increase our poor posture and weakness through our neck but encouraging the forward head posture and shoulder rounding, as mentioned above.
The good news is that there are exercises and stretches you can implement at home to help decrease and manage your neck pain, stiffness and tension. Neck strengthening exercises can be completed to increase the strength in our neck and upper back so that our posture is improved and maintained. These should be completed once per day. Before stretching, it is a good idea to include self-massage, also known as myofascial release. Myofascial release is another tool that can be completed at home daily to help alleviate tension. Neck stretches work on the flexibility and mobility within the cervical spine. This can assist in relieving the stiffness and pain. It is recommended that stretching is done daily, if not a couple of times throughout one’s workday.
Try the below-strengthening exercises presented by Phzio once per day, Also, follow along with the three stretches below. The stretches can be completed a couple of times throughout your workday!
Standing scap retraction
Quadruped Thoracic Rotation
Stretching (videos from Phzio)
Seated upper trap stretch
Levator Scap stretch
Standing Pec Stretch at Corner
Additionally, there is a quick and easy 6-minute posture stretch break video by the Phzio team to help encourage good posture, movement and facilitate a decrease in tension. Follow along once per day as a way to further prevent and alleviate your neck and upper back pain, tension and stiffness!