When your neck hurts, nothing feels right. We generally take our necks for granted until movement is restricted, and pain hits us anytime we move. Ashley Johnston, DPT, says the key to treating neck pain, or preventing it, is to strengthen the upper back.
“My approach to chronic neck pain is often to address bad posture, especially for people who sit in front of a computer all day, or are texting a lot,” Johnston says. “They get what we call the rounded shoulder/head forward posture and this eventually causes neck pain.”
Johnston says that there are simple stretches you can do to help with your neck pain if it hasn’t been going on for too long and isn’t too severe. What the exercises will do is strengthen and stretch your deep neck flexors, which are muscles that attach to your spine.
“The deep neck flexors are critical to good posture because they provide cervical stability and help support your spine,” Johnston says.
First thing though is that you should change the way you are working at the computer. Try to position the computer screen at eye level so you are not looking up or down at the screen. If that’s not possible, then take frequent breaks with active, gentle range-of-motion movements (up and down and side to side), making sure this is a pain-free movement.
Here are the stretches for strengthening and stretching your neck:
Chin tucks are a good way to work the neck flexors, which can become weakened with neck pain. Start in a normal position as shown here.
Next, tuck the chin, but not too far if your pain increases, while lengthening the back of your neck as shown below. Return to starting position and repeat 10 times.
Levator Scapula Stretch
Tilt your head to one side (opposite side from where pain is occurring. If you’re in prevention mode, always a good idea, make sure your stretch both sides). Then, tilt your head downwards at a 45 degree angle as if you’re trying to peek at your toes. Feel the stretch but don’t overdue or force your downwards. Hold for 20-30 and repeat three times.
Please remember if your pain is too severe or debilitating, please call us (504-733-0254) and we will see you ASAP.