Things You Can Do to Help Neck Pain
Everything from car accidents to sleeping wrong can be a pain in the neck, and if not treated it can lead to further complications including headaches, pulled muscles and compressed or “pinched” nerves. So even if you think you just have a “crick” in your neck, take the time to care for it so it doesn’t get worse or cause you to have more problems.
One of the most basic and most effective things you can do for a sore neck or a stiff neck is to gently stretch the muscles that ache. You can start off with some simple moves like forward and backward stretches and move on to side stretches, using your arm to carefully guide the movement. There are also variations of neck stretches that involve holding your arms behind your back. For more advanced stretches to relieve spasm, try the “grounded tip over tuck” and the “seated heart opener”.
Yoga is a low-impact therapy that uses stretching and breathing exercises to help strengthen and tone your body while at the same time relaxing you and bringing a sense of calm. Certain poses are particularly good for treating and preventing neck pain including the following: Bitilasana (Cow Pose), Marjariasana (Cat Pose), Bharadvaja’s Twist, Balasana (Child’s Pose), Savasana (Corpse Pose), Ardha Matsyendrasana (Seated Twist Pose), Uttana Shishosana (Extended Puppy Pose), and Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose).
Ice and Heat Therapy
If you have recently injured your neck, applying ice will help with inflammation and reduce swelling. Be careful about icing though – it can create muscle tension so it’s not a good idea to ice a pulled muscle. That’s when heat comes in. For general muscle soreness, heat can help. It relaxes the muscles and takes the edge off the pain. You don’t want to use heat on anything inflamed, however, because the heat can actually make the swelling worse. When used properly though, heat and ice can truly help.
Massage therapy is good for just about anything that ails you, not to mention it just feels really good. It’s especially great for neck pain though. Because of the way our muscles and nerves are all connected, there are several different trigger points in the neck, shoulders and back that affect potential neck pain. You can fairly easily do self-massage for the trigger points on your neck, which is extremely helpful since you can control the pressure, friction and overall movement. No one knows better than you where and how it hurts! When getting a massage from someone else, they can focus on the trigger points in your shoulders, shoulder blades and upper back in general to really help relax those tight muscles and melt the pain away.
Obviously I’m a bit biased, but there’s nothing better for neck problems than chiropractic care. There are several different types of treatments we do as chiropractors to treat neck pain. We will determine which is right for you based on your individual circumstances and needs. To get the right treatment, it’s important to know the cause of your neck pain.
The neck consists of seven vertebrae at the top of your spine and can become misaligned due to pulled muscles, stiffness from inactivity, car accidents, and many other things. One of the most common things for a chiropractor to do is to first use electric muscle stimulation with ice or heat, and then do what’s called a “cervical manipulation“. This restores the vertebrae to their original position, allowing for improved range of motion and reduced pain.
One of the supplements I use in my office is an all-natural herbal muscle relaxer. It’s special blend of magnesium and Valflora (valerian root, lemon balm, chamomile, cramp bark, and passion flower) provide a gentle yet effective way for your muscles to relax without sending you into a zombie-like stupor. This is especially wonderful to use at night if you have trouble sleeping due to neck pain. The herbs calm not only your muscles, but your mind, as well.
So don’t ignore that neck pain. Do something about it. Relief may not be as far away as it seems.