Neck pain can really destroy your day. It can start with waking up with a little tightness on one side and through the day can progress to being completely rigid. Or you may feel fine in the morning and after sitting at your computer for a few hours you can feel the tightness creep up. Neck and shoulder tightness can cause headaches, fatigue and shallow breathing leading to anxiety. A vicious cycle can occur where the neck and shoulder tightness lock down the diaphragm and lungs which limits breath capacity, shallow breathing stimulates the ‘fight or flight’ response in the brain and anxiety increases. So what can you do to break this cycle?
Causes of neck pain
Common causes of neck pain include sleeping in as strange position and general posture through the day.
If you wake up with a sore neck it is likely that you pillow is not right for you neck. So ditch your pillow and go and find one that is designed to provide optimal support for you neck, head and shoulders. This can be a game changer so don’t delay.
If you get a sore neck through the day or ‘always have a sore neck’ it is likely this is to do with you general posture, particularly your upper back strength. Below is a great picture of the relationship between the upper back and the head.
This image shows the additional weight that is carried by the neck when the head is held forward of the body. And to translate 12 pounds is nearly 6 kilos. So if you have neck pain or shoulder tightness regularly it is likely that your posture is either like the figure in the middle or the one on the right of the picture. So what to do?
Slow fix – big picture
As a movement therapist and Pilates teacher, I look at the whole body from the feet up to help clients change their posture. I program specific exercises to strengthen some things and lengthen others. See the image below:
Quick fix – what can I do today?
Well there is no substitute for a long term strategy that looks at the causes but there are some key exercises that can really help to get you on the right track.
Videos coming soon
The head hover
The pec stretch
The upper back release
The scalene stretch
There are many more exercises that you can learn and enjoy in Pilates class with me online or in Byron, Lennox Head or Ballina.