Fitness

Keeping Your Neck Fit and Happy — Remedies For Neck Pain

Recently, we talked about the common problem of “tech neck” where the head is held forward of the body due to poor posture. Another problem that many people experience is pain in their neck that often shoots down into the shoulders and arms. Today, I’d like to share five specific things to help avoid and ease neck pain.

1. Get a new pillow. In the previous article about good sitting posture and how to avoid “tech neck,” we discussed how to lift your screens up to eye level to avoid slouching. The placement of your head when you are asleep is also important. Make sure you have the right pillow for the way you sleep. Pillow manufacturers now make pillows specifically for side sleepers and for back sleepers. As a side sleeper myself, I can attest to how my new side sleeping pillow has made sleeping more comfortable, and my neck feels better when I wake up. When you think about how much time you spend sleeping and how important it is, getting a new pillow is well worth the investment. Here is a quality pillow you can get from Amazon.

 

2. Strengthen muscles around the neck. Sometimes, the muscles that connect your neck to your body are the ones that are weak/tight, and this can cause your neck to hurt. In particular, the muscles that shrug your shoulders (the trapezius and the levitator scapulae) could be in a weak, contracted state and leave your neck hurting. The solution is to do exercises to mobilize and strengthen them so they hold up on their own in a relaxed way. Here are two exercises for this:

1) Shoulder Circles: Stand or sit up straight. Move your shoulders forward, up and around in a big circle. Do this four times, then reverse four shoulder circles.

2) Shrugs with Weights: Holding medium to heavy dumbbells (you could use gallon jugs of water), lift your shoulders up toward your ears in a big shrug, and then lower. Repeat 10 shrugs. (See images.)

shrug-1   shrug-2

Join the conversation

  • Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. October 31, 2016 at 12:14 am

    Thanks Jon for these always welcome suggestions to help relieve the muscle tension in my neck. I write so much in patient consultations, type so much to answer or send hundreds of emails, and bend over charts for an hour each on the weekend that I often have neck pain that radiates into my scalp. I will make a real effort to prevent the muscle spasm that is causing this pain. We are so grateful to you for your thoughtful posts.

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