Like most common chronic pains, a muscular imbalance somewhere in the body is or was the root cause of the pain or discomfort you are feeling. As you have probably heard, low back and knee pain are usually the most common pains people experience through day-to-day life, but neck pain is a very close runner-up on the percentage of the population who lives life with a stiff and painful neck.
Almost everyone has experienced some sort of neck tightness or pain in their life, but what is it caused from? As we are evolving or not… evolving, the average persons posture is taking a beating due to a large percentage of the population living a sedentary lifestyle, and a small percentage of the population not moving correctly. Static posture is the way we stand and hold ourselves when not in motion. This is the main contributor to the pains we feel in our muscles and joints, without even doing vigorous activity!
With that being said, the most common problems when it comes to a painful neck, are the rounding of your shoulders. If you live everyday hunched over at your desk and car for hours at a time, you most likely have some rounding going on, called internal rotation. Internal rotation is normally caused by tightness in the anterior (front side) of the body, and weakness of the back side. Everybody’s root cause may be different, for example; client A has rounded shoulders due to an after effect of weak Glutes, versus client B has rounded shoulders due to weakness in the upper back/rhomboids. Note: these are just examples.
What You Need To Do
Along with the stretches I am about to show you, you also need to strength the posterior chain. See a specialist to determine the root cause of your pain, and allow him/her to correct it. You’re most important area’s to stretch is going to be your Pecs (Chest muscles) and Anterior Deltoid (Front of the shoulder), along with the muscles surrounding these areas.
Until you see a specialist to determine what the root cause of your pain is, focus on strengthening your Rhomboids, Rear Deltoids, Lats, and the Posterior Chain of your lower body.
1. Forearm/Chest Wall Stretch
Grab onto the side of a hallway opening or anything similar, about shoulder height. Fully extend your elbow and slowly rotate away from your palm, you should feel a stretch down the front shoulder, biceps, and forearm. Potentially in the side of your neck as well.
Scalene’s run from your jaw line, down towards your collar bones. Place 3 or 4 fingers right below the collar bone, rotate your head and look up in the opposite direction. If you are really tight here, you may even feel your jaw get pulled down, forcing your mouth to open a little bit.
3. Levator Scapulae
Arguably the spot most people complain about with neck pain, is the Levator Scapulae. Running down the back of your skull, and along each of your shoulder blades, this muscle is actually commonly lengthened from the tightness in the front side of your upper body. Depending on your situation, stretching this muscle can either make a permanent difference in pain, or only relieve it for a short amount of time before the ache starts coming back. Most people will benefit from stretching this muscle, so thats why it is on the list.
Here are the top three stretches you should be doing daily to reduce neck pain. Hold each stretch anywhere from 2 minutes, or until you feel an actual change has occurred (reduced pain, or tension). Remember, these are just stretches and will most likely not get rid of your painful neck in most cases, you will need to compliment these stretches with corrective exercises to balance yourself back out. As stated in the beginning of this article, strengthen the posterior side of your body, and pay attention to static posture throughout the day.
Feel free to contact Innovative Health and Fitness with any questions regarding further information on fixing your pain, corrective exercise, and personal training!