Have you ever wondered how the phrase “a pain in the neck” came about?
Considering the fact that a human head weighs about 5kg, we are certainly quite vulnerable to neck pain.
According to Dr. Kenneth D. Erickson, “for every inch that the head projects forward, the weight experienced by the muscles of the neck doubles”!
So if a man’s head weighs 5kg, and he holds it in front of his shoulders by 2 inches, it means he’s working to hold 20kg of weight!
If he does that only a few minutes a day, it shouldn’t pose a problem. But imagine doing that up to 8 hours a day for a year, or 5, or 10!
The neck pain we experience is due to the overuse and tightening of the levator scapula muscle. The original function of the levator scapula is to lift the shoulder blades. However, with forward head postures, we end up using the levator scapula to hold our heads in that position while we look at our computers, iPad, Blackberry and a myriad of other electronic and handheld devices we use today for work and leisure.
Unfortunately, these overworked muscles seldom “switch off” so what we are left with are discomfot and pain.
The good news : because neck pain is usually developed over time from daily activities, many of the symptoms can be prevented and reduced through awareness, stretch and release and some simple strengthening exercises.
Below are 2 things you can do right now!
(1) Neck Stretch
Here we stretch the levator scapula to relieve neck pain :
Instructions : Turn your head to your right side, about 45 degrees of rotation. Place your right hand on the back of your head and gently pull downward in the direction of your armpit.
Hold 10-15 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side.
Do 3-5 times daily or when needed.
(2) Chin Nod
Here we strengthen the deep neck flexors – the small stabilizing muscles that connect one cervical (neck) vertebra to the next.
Instructions : Stand with your back, including the back of your head against a wall. Nod your chin slowly down toward your throat and hold for 10 seconds. You should feel a stretch along the back of the neck.
It is important that you are nodding your chin instead of aggressively tucking it.
Repeat up to 10 times and practice daily. This exercise can be practiced lying on your back, or seated in your car against the headrest too.
I hope you are doing the exercises now and taking your first steps towards banishing neck pain .