You may be surprised to learn that the vast majority of people suffer with neck pain to some degree. Although common, chronic neck pain can be debilitating, having a negative impact on overall quality of life.
Chronic neck pain is often accompanied by shoulder pain (that may or may not radiate into the arms), as well as pain and discomfort in the upper back.
Many individuals who spend a large fraction of their day either sitting in an office or working over a computer complain of severe neck pains.
There are many ways to treat chronic neck and upper back pain. But before you can treat it, you must have all the pieces of the puzzle, the most important piece being a proper diagnosis. Not all cases of neck pain as a simple as muscle tension. So be sure to have an in depth discussion with your primary care provider before trying to treat your pain.
Once given the OK by your care provider, neck stretches are an easy and convenient way to ease the pain. The objective is to loosen the tense neck and shoulder muscles. If circumstances allow, use a heat pad to the neck before your stretches to loosen you up. If not, that’s okay too.
Stretch #1: Bring yourself to the corner of a room that is clear of clutter. Place your right hand on the wall to your right, your left hand to the wall on your left. Your nose should face the corner where the two walls meet. Maintain about 1.5 to 2 feet distance between your face and the corner of the wall. Keeping your feet in place, slowly bend at the elbow until you have only a foot distance from the wall, or you begin to feel pain. Stretches are not meant to hurt. This exercise stretches out the shoulder blades, which can often cause neck and upper back pains
Stretch #2: You can do this stretch sitting, standing, even at work. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Exhale slowly. Repeat. This releases tension in the muscles. Drop your shoulders. Inhale, and slowly, still with your eyes closed and on the exhale, and bring your chin to touch your chest. You should count at least 5 seconds before your chin makes contact with your chest. This ensures you aren’t moving too quickly. Hold this position for 3 seconds. Inhale and tilt your head back to look at the ceiling and exhale. Do not push yourself beyond where you are comfortable. You don’t need to look up if it is too painful. The goal here is to stretch muscles that have been tense for long periods during your day. You can do this as many times as you feel comfortable in the day. Again, stretches shouldn’t cause you pain.
Stretching not only helps with some of the pain, but it can also be a calming and relaxing habit to get into. But as always, speak with your doctor before trying any new exercises or stretches to avoid causing more harm than good.