3 Simple Exercises for Neck Pain
Neck pain is a common complaint I hear from patients and in addition to causing discomfort, it can also lead to a variety of other problems such as jaw pain, headaches and migraines. Neck pain can be caused by many factors but these days is often linked to poor posture and prolonged screen time. When people lose correct posture in their necks, the muscles and ligaments in the front of the neck tend to get short and tight while the Extensor muscles in the back of the neck and shoulders get stretched and weak. This muscle imbalance often leads a postural syndrome called Upper Cross Syndrome. If you are wanting to correct this posture imbalance, these are three simple exercises for neck pain and involve stretching to ease tension and correct posture.
Exercise 1: Pectoral & Anterior Neck Muscle Stretch
For this exercise, it’s most effective if you have a Swiss ball. This is a great way to stretch the muscles in the front of your neck and chest that get tight and create Upper Cross Syndrome which leads to neck pain. If you don’t have a Swiss ball available, you can also do this exercise over the side of a bed. To perform the stretch, lie down with your back across the ball, let your arms fall to your side and face your palms upwards. Remain in this position for 2-3 minutes to allow the stretch to fully engage your body.
Exercise 2: Chin Tucks
This exercise requires no equipment at all! Chin tucks will help to activate the Extensor muscles in the back of your neck and help you to maintain good posture. This is a great exercise for neck pain. To perform the Chin Tuck exercise, begin by looking straight ahead. Then gently glide your chin straight back, without tilting your head up or down, or bending your neck forward. It’s only a small movement but it is really effective. Hold for 5 seconds, then relax. Repeat this exercise 5 times.
Exercise 3: Trigger Point Muscles In The Neck
The equipment you need for these exercises are a small Trigger Point Ball. Trigger Point exercises work by using a small ball to release tension in the muscles in the neck which cause pain. The best muscles to target with a Trigger Point exercise are the Trapezius and Suboccitital Muscles. You can purchase a small Trigger Point Ball from Rebel Sport, Kmart or online, and use a tennis ball in the meantime.
Trapezius Muscle Trigger
To trigger the Trapezius muscle, fold your body at a 90º angle against a sturdy surface such as a fridge or wall and place the ball on your shoulder, between your neck and shoulder point as shown in photo 1. Lean into the wall, controlling the pressure with your body weight, let your arm hang toward the floor as shown in photo 2 and take a few breaths whilst the ball sinks into your tissue. One settled, reach your arm up alongside your body as you inhale as shown in photo 3. Finally, bring your arm back to the floor as you exhale. Complete this movement 10 times and switch to the other side to repeat the exercise.
For the Suboccipital Release, you can use a Single or Double Trigger Point Ball (alternatively, tape two tennis balls together). Begin by laying down on your back with your knees bent and place the Trigger Point Ball under the back of your neck and base of your head. Perform Chin Tucks by leaning your chin towards the base of your neck and return to the neutral position. The ball should roll and massage your neck as you move. Repeat this exercise for 30 repetitions or until the muscle is released.
There you have it – three simple exercises for neck pain you can do yourself. If you need any further help or treatment feel free to Get in Touch with Dr Miki Humphrey. She is a qualified Chiropractor based in Brisbane and has years of experience helping people suffering from neck pain.