As students get back into their studying routine this back to school season, they may find that the increased time spent reading and doing computer work, in addition to higher levels of stress, may cause neck pain.
Neck pain is a common problem with many possible causes. Poor posture, hunching over a computer, arthritis, whiplash, and muscle strain from simple things like reading in bed or grinding your teeth can all trigger neck pain. When your neck muscles become tired and strained, pain may be the first symptom.
Thankfully, there are several things you can do to help. Self-therapy is just one method, and it is often best practised in combination with manual therapy. Here are three forms of self-therapy techniques your chiropractor might prescribe for you to do at home to help relieve your neck pain:
1) Stretch: There are a few muscles that are commonly associated with pain in the upper back and neck. Here are a couple of stretches that you can do throughout the day to help decrease your pain.
|Stretch #1: Sitting or standing with a relaxed posture, keep your shoulders down and bring your left ear to your left shoulder. You should feel the stretch on the right side of your neck. Repeat the stretch on the other side and hold the stretch for 10 seconds, for a total of three repetitions per side.|
|Stretch #2: Sitting or standing with a relaxed posture, keep your shoulders down and tilt your head as far forward as you can, then align your right eye with the outside of your left knee. Use your left hand on your head to create more of a stretch. You should feel this stretch on the right side of your upper back. Repeat the stretch on the other side and hold the stretch for 10 seconds, for a total of three repetitions per side.|
|2) Strengthen: A simple exercise you can do at home to help with your neck pain is chin tucks. Chin tucks work on strengthening the deep neck muscles. This exercise can be performed standing or laying down. If you are standing, ensure that you are standing with a neutral posture, then actively pull your chin back, as if to create a double chin. If laying down, gently press the back of your head into the pillow, creating a double chin. Hold either of the variations for 10 seconds and repeat three times.|
3) Most importantly…keep moving!
It is important to make sure that you don’t stay in one position for too long; sitting or standing. If your day involves prolonged sitting, make sure to stand up and take walking breaks. If your job involves prolonged standing, try to take sitting breaks throughout the day and also ensure that you take walking breaks. Movement is key! You can also download the Straighten Up Canada app for daily exercises to help keep you moving.
In rare cases, neck pain can be a sign of something serious. Seek immediate attention and tell your chiropractor if your neck pain is accompanied by severe headache, shooting pain in your shoulder, or arm, numbness or loss of strength in your arms or hands, trouble speaking, swallowing or walking, blurred vision or loss of balance.
When should I consider chiropractic care?
If you experience neck pain, consult a chiropractor for an assessment. Your chiropractor will recommend a course of treatment specific to you which may include spinal adjustments, joint mobilization, muscle release techniques, muscle stimulation, therapeutic exercises, and lifestyle advice. Most people respond well to treatment and get back to their regular activities faster than waiting it out.
For more information, please consult with your local chiropractor.