I find the most common cause of constant neck pain or neck tension is actually from poor posture. Here, Kirky’s Massages Northampton area is going to offer advice on how to prevent or relieve this pain. Read on for more information.
In today’s world, governed by mobile phones and computers, we are bending our heads forward and down a lot to look at the screens on our phones or the screen s on our desk.
Quite often at work you will find that we forget to ensure our desk monitors are at the right height for us and we are either bending forward and down, or perhaps they will be too high and we are bending our necks/heads backwards to look up. Your desk screen should be at the correct height, in other words you should be able to look straight ahead directly into your monitor screen.
When it comes to our mobile phones realistically nobody will be holding their screen up in the air to look directly into it without bending their necks. Thats not going to happen. We ALL tend to bend our neck and head down and forward to see what’s happening on social media or to send texts or watch a movie.
This also happens if your car seat is not in the correct position or you have a car seat with no lumbar support. Your back will curve into a C shape with your head dangling at the top end of that C (which is your spine figuratevely). I have noticed this myself as I have only been driving for roughly five years. I was always quite proud of the fact that my posture was good but I am very aware now that I am starting to develop that C shape and a slight forward head. I have noticed my head is always bent too far forward when I am in the drivers seat and it is actually quite difficult to sit back and keep my head above my shoulders! When you buy your next car check the drivers seat for lumbar support and postural positioning!
Unfortunately, over a long period of time the spine will begin to accept that C shape and forward neck and head positioning as ‘natural’ and it will stay there, gradually getting worse.
The effects of this will begin to show as the shoulders begin to curve forward and a kyphotic spine begins to form.
Some symptoms you may experience if you suffer a forward neck or kyphotic spine are:
- Difficulty breathing (severe case)(curved spine squashing lungs/airway)
- Mild to severe back pain
- Rounded back
- Tenderness/soreness around the spinal area
- Neck pain / tension
- Muscle tension in neck/shoulders causing pain
How do we correct, or fix this problem?
Image courtesy of YogaUonline
The image above depicts the weight of your head and how heavy it becomes the more you bend your neck forward.
Luckily there are exercises you can do at home to help correct poor posture before resorting to medication or surgical correction.
I have inserted a hyperlink to a simple technique you can try at home at your own risk (if you suffer osteoporosis, arthritis, degenerative disc or any other condition that affects your spine / bone structure, please consult your Doctor PRIOR to attempting anything shown or advised on this page. I cannot be held responsible for your choice at home – please be responsible).
1) A technique to help reverse Dowagers Hump / Forward Neck
2) Place your forefinger tip on your chin and gently push your chin into your chest. This may feel strange at first and create a sense of pulling, or tension in your neck. Do this gently and once you reach the stop position (where you cannot go any further) hold it for at least 20 seconds or longer if you can. Do not over stretch yourself and stay well within your pain threshold if you do feel any pain. I have included a diagram to help you understand what I am asking you to do.
Images courtesy of Jane Johnson – The Friendly Physio
3) This stretch helps releive neck and shoulder tension.
With a straight back, head upright clasp your hands behind your head, fingers interlocked with thumbs resting on the base of your skull (occipitals). Drop your elbows in and allow your head to drop forwards until it comes to a natural stop. You should feel a slight pull along the spinal muscles and neck. Very gently increase the pressure and pull your head downwards – ONLY GO AS FAR AS IS COMFORTABLE – overstretching can lead to muscle damage. Feel the stretch along your spine (erector spinae muscles alongside your spine). Very gentlyl rotate your head left to right, holding that pressure pulling down on your head. You should feel the stretch in your neck and shoulders too now. GENTLY, and only as much as is comfortable for you. Stay well within your pain threshold.
4) Stretch and open up your chest and shoulders.
Stand straight with your arms down at your sides. Keep your elbows by your sides and your hans by your hips and visualise a tennis ball between your shoulder blades. Bring your shoulders back – squeezing that imaginery tennis ball as tightly as you can between your shoulder blades – Keeping your elbows and hands straight down at your sides – do not bend them. Hold that tight squeeze for 10 seconds and then release. Bring your shoulders forward and squeeze them forward releasing that tension. After 5 seconds go back into the tennis ball squeeze and hold it for another 10 seconds. Then repeat the 5 second forward shoulder squeeze and then repeat again one more time. In effect 3 reps of 10 second tennis ball squeezes between the shoulder blades. This is a very effective stretch release techique for the chest and shoulders. Again, it is important to stay within your pain threshold. Do not overstretch – if it causes pain or is uncomfortable – stop!
5) Purchase a Pro-Foam Half Roller (90cm by 15cm) for use at home or in the gym.
This is used as a postural correction device to assist in correcting upper body posture and to help reduce forward head posture and rounding of the shoulders. Forward head posture can lead to a feeling of being ‘wound up’ and the some symptoms may present as:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Difficulty losing weight
Sensitivity to light and sound
How to use:
To be used preferably two times a day building up from 2-3 min up to 15 min at a time. Lie on your and your tailbone on the pole, keep your knees bent, feet flat , straight arms and palms up. back with your head on the pole
Easy: Arms at 5’ and 7’ o’clock position
Difficult: Arms at 3’ and 9’ o’clock position
Image and information above courtesy of SD Protocol.com.au
I do advise you to research SD Protocol and the Postural Correction Device for further information and guidelines in this particular method. Please follow these links:
Please note: I do not claim to be qualified in the SD Protocol approach. I am merely advising you to follow your own research and be responsible for yourself. I can say that I have used and still do use the Half Roller myself as often as I can to help prevent further posture deterioration in my own spine. I personally find it makes a massive difference to my own health and wellbeing and to my own posture so much so that I intend to study this and add it to my existing portfolio as a Therapist.