More often than not, the pain that you may experience in your neck is the result of stresses on the area that are caused by poor posture. Whether that pain is centralized in your neck, is spreading to your shoulders, or even if it extends down into your arms and fingers, it originates from damaged soft tissues in the area between your shoulder girdle and your head – the inward curve in your neck. This damage can be addressed with the consistent application of certain stretches that, over time, will alleviate the pain you’re feeling and also restore full mobility to your neck if that has been a problem.
A good rule of thumb for any of these exercises is to move until you’re at the very edge of the pain, and then release. As you begin practicing, you may experience an increase in the original pain. This is normal, and will usually begin to subside after the first session. You may also experience new and unfamiliar pains in the area. This is just your body’s response to movements that it’s not accustomed to, and such soreness usually disappears in a few days. Your basic regimen will involve short exercise periods repeated throughout the day – about every two hours. This is the best way to address pain. If your goal is to prevent neck problems from recurring, then you can cut back your frequency of exercise to about half.
Begin by retracting your head backwards as far as possible. Do this in a seated position, looking straight ahead, and keep your chin tucked down and in. Repeat the movement – retracting and then relaxing – ten times in one sitting. Six to eight sessions of this throughout the day are optimum. Neck extensions go well with this exercise. Perform them in that same seated position, lifting your chin up and tilting your head backwards like you’re gazing at the sky. Turn your head just slightly, a half inch to the left and then to the right, alternating a few times, and then return to the starting position. Again, ten repetitions in a sitting are ideal. If pain is more severe on one side of your neck, you can augment your routine with some side bends, moving your head towards the side that’s causing you more discomfort. Gently pull your head in that direction with one hand to work the area more fully.
If your neck pain is particularly severe, you can do your head retraction and neck extension exercises from a lying position. Head retractions would then involve lying flat on your back and pushing the back of your head into the mattress while at the same time tucking your chin in. For neck extensions, lie so that your head, neck, and top of your shoulders protrude over the edge of your bed. Support your head with one hand cupped behind it to begin with. Then stretch your head and neck backwards as far as you can, so that you’re looking at the floor directly below you. Relax in the extended position for half a minute before lifting your head back up. As with the seated variations of these exercises, do ten repetitions a session, for six to eight sessions a day.
These exercises will not only address neck pain but also encourage you to adopt better postural habits. Such habits are the best way to prevent further problems. Remind yourself to sit against the back of a chair so that your lower back is supported, and try to be aware of the times when you slouch or allow your head to protrude. These are the natural tendencies of our bodies, as muscles relax in the seated position, so the adoption of good posture requires constant vigilance.
Cinergy Health & Life Insurance Agency is dedicated to providing quality health and life insurance plans for people in a variety of life situations. For more information on a selection of health and insurance topics, visit the Cinergy Health & Life Learning Center at http://www.cinergyhealth.com .
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