How to Deal With Neck Pain and Stiffness
Neck pain and stiffness is something that everyone is going to experience at some point in their life. However, here are many things that you can do to help prevent this from occurring and to help alleviate it. One of the main reasons why people experience neck pain and stiffness is due to the prolonged position of an “anterior head carriage”.
Anterior head carriage develops when individuals constantly look downwards as in using a cell phone, reading a book, studying, or using a computer that is too low. Your neck muscles has to support your head which weighs roughly 8-12 pounds. As your head travels forward, the amount your head weights increases tremendously which requires more work from your neck muscles and causes them to become fatigued, achy and creates pain/stiffness. Avoid having your head positioned forward as much as possible and consider using alternatives while using a computer. Both of these will help prevent episodes of nagging neck pain from occurring so often. A sit-stand desk works great in helping you position your computer monitor so that the top of the screen is at eye-level.
With anterior head carriage, there are many muscles that become weak and/or inhibited and some that become overly strong and/or overactive. There are some exercises that you can preform at home that can help re-position your head and decrease your pain/stiffness.
The Chin Tuck – the chin tuck is a great exercise because you can preform it anywhere! While sitting or standing up tall, pull your head back as if you were trying to create a “double chin” and hold this position for roughly 30 seconds. This exercise will help strengthen your deep neck flexors and decrease the force that is put on your hyperactive muscles. 3x30 seconds is a good place to start and progressively increase the rep to 1 min.
Brugger’s exercises – You can preform this exercise almost anywhere as well. While sitting at the edge of a chair, open your legs slightly with your toes facing outwards. Sit up tall and slightly tuck your chin with your arms our to your sides next to your hips and palms facing forward. Rotate your shoulders outwards and pull your should blades back. Hold this position for about 30 seconds and repeat.
Doorway stretch – Tight pectoralis (chest) muscles can contribute to anterior head carriage by pulling your shoulders forward. Stretching your pecs can help alleviate some tension and the doorway stretch is an easy way to do so. While standing next to a doorway, position your arm at an 90 degree ankle and your elbow in a 90 degree angle. Place this arm on the doorway and rotate your body away from the door until you feel a nice stretch along your pectoralis muscles. Hold for 30 seconds, switch, then repeat.
In addition to these exercises, chiropractic adjustments to your Thoracic (mid-back) and Cervical (neck) spines can help decrease pain and stiffness to those respective regions. These adjustments help improve joint mobility which results in an increase in range of motion and helps decrease muscles spasms. Regular chiropractic adjustment can help reduce the amount of pain and stiffness that you’re experiencing from anterior head carriage.
Have a question regarding anterior head carriage, neck pain/stiffness, these exercises, chiropractic or anything else that may be related, please leave a comment below or contact me and I’ll try my best to answer your questions.
Thank you for reading.
Dr. Andres T. De La Cruz, D.C., CSCS
Doctor of Chiropractic
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
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