A Pain in the neck!
By Sharon Truelove, MS, LMT, NCTM
Does neck pain keep you awake at night?
Do you feel like a hot poker is lodged between your shoulders?
There can be many reasons for experiencing “a pain in the neck”.
- Injury. Whiplash is one of the most common neck injuries. It involves sudden hyperextension and flexion such as when a car impacts from the rear.
- Stress and emotional tension. Short-term acute stress can actually help a person to react more quickly, think more clearly, and be more attentive and productive. However, ongoing chronic stress can overwhelm the body. If we hold this stress constantly it doesn’t allow good circulation to the muscles and thus they are deprived of nutrients and oxygen…a classic set up for muscle pain.
Sleeping wrong. Holding a muscular position while sleeping throughout the night can cause muscle spasms in the neck (better known as a crick).
Setting at you computer too long. Who hasn’t experienced this? Holding a head-forward posture too long, sets the muscles up for poor circulation.
Bad posture. The further we hold our head forward, the more weight is imposed on our bodies in an unhealthy way.
Tips to Try.
- Improve your posture. See our previous blog on workspace make-over. http://massagetherapy.careerpathblog.com/workspace-onceover/
- Stretch throughout the day. A good guideline is 3X times for 2 minutes or when you feel discomfort.
- Practice gentle cervical traction. You can use a cervical pillow, “still point” device, “neackease”, or sleeping on a rolled-up towel placed under the neck can help add support to the neck.
4. Apply cold compresses to tense muscles.Keep cold packs at work, at home, and in a cooler when you travel. A homemade pack is easy to make. Stuff a sock with rice. Pack the rice loosely so the heat pack bends to fit different parts of your body. Leave the top 2 inches empty. Shake the sock gently so that no rice clings to the top. Wrap the string around the top of the sock and tie it in a tight double-knot. Cut away all but 1 inch of hanging string. Microwave the hot pack in 30-second intervals. Test the temperature by pressing the pack to the underside of your wrist. Remove it from the microwave when it is comfortably warm.
5. Receive massage therapy. Swedish massage relieves stress. If your stiff neck is related to previous injuries or poor posture, you might opt for Deep Tissue or more aggressive styles of massage.
6. Get regular aerobic exercise, do Yoga or Tai Chi. Increasing blood and oxygen flow to the muscles helps refresh tense muscles and loosen restrictions. Your whole body will feel better!