Over the last few years our occupations, daily habits and therefore lifestyles have changed dramatically. This has led to the development of many musculoskeletal related problems becoming quite predominate in manual therapy clinics. One of the problems that Chiropractors regularly manage is neck muscle pain and recent estimates suggest that approximately one in five people will experience some form of neck muscle pain in the next three months.
While there is a long list of potential causes of a stiff and sore neck, perhaps topping the list are poor posture, muscle weakness, muscle tightness and joint dysfunction. Each of these causes are exactly the reason why so many people consult with Chiropractors around the world in order to appropriately manage their neck muscle pain.
Are You Guilty Of These?
- Slouching while sitting at your office desk
- Having prolonged periods of sitting looking at a computer screen
- Continually trying to stretch you neck muscles to relieve pain
- Self-manipulating your cervical spine to get temporary relief
- Looking down at your phone, ipad, ipod or other devices
- Sleeping on an old or unsupportive pillow
Tip 1: Firstly Consult With A Suitable Practitioner
Before self-diagnosing your problem it is worthwhile seeing a suitable practitioner such as a Chiropractor, Physiotherapist or Osteopath so they can give you tailored feedback. These practitioners and many more will properly examine your neck, muscles and associated structures and determine the exact management that is necessary.
Tip 2: Kick That Posture Into Gear
Maintaining normal posture can be difficult. Work on your posture daily through specific exercises that can be performed at home. Many of the postural strengthening & mobility exercises that we prescribe in our office take no longer than 10minutes a day and can be completed right from your lounge room at home. These exercises are designed to improve the alignment of the cervical and thoracic spines, enhance flexibility and strengthen supporting muscles.
Tip 3: Use A Massage Ball
There are a variety of shapes and sizes of massage balls. These devices are fantastic for managing neck muscle pain because you can apply as much or as little pressure as you can tolerate. Massage balls are used to reduce muscle tightness, spasm and treat trigger points.
Tip 4: Speak To Your Chiropractor About Cervical Traction Devices
Cervical traction devices do exactly what their name suggests, they traction the neck to open joints, reduce pressure upon discs and release muscular tension. Most cervical traction devices can be used at home.
Tip 5: Get Your Partner To Give You A Rub Down
Even just 5-minutes of a soft and relaxing massage to the muscles of the neck and shoulders can assist with improving neck muscle pain.
Tip 6: Freezer Or Microwave For Neck Muscle Pain?
There is a lot of conjecture about whether heat or ice is best for muscle injuries. Perhaps the safest approach and my personal favorite is to use both approaches. Typically my advice is to apply heat to an injured area first for a period of 10-15minutes and following this by directly apply ice to the same area for the same period of time. This ensures that you receive the benefits of both approaches.