If you’re dealing with neck pain, it can be really frustrating and exhausting.
Here's the first in our line of our favorite tips for some of the most common areas of pain that we see. We're starting with neck pain today and how to help it.
We’ve helped hundreds of people with neck pain so we know just how frustrating it can be to have it affect a lot of different parts of your day. Whether it’s affecting your workouts, your sleep, sitting at your desk or driving, or another part of your day, it can be tough to deal with it.
On top of that, most medical advice is super negative and will tell you that you have a ”bad” neck, bad posture, you should stop lifting or exercising, or that you just have to live with it. We’ve heard this over and over again from people we’ve helped. The good news is that you don’t have to live with neck pain!
Everyone’s neck pain is completely different and needs a very individual approach. But, there are some general tips and answers to questions that we’ve found to be helpful to a lot of people dealing with pain. Some of these might be very different from what you’ve heard before, but it’s all backed by research and also by all the stories of people with neck pain who have recovered.
Make sure you are strengthening your neck, not just stretching
Way too often people are told their traps or other neck muscles are overactive and they need to turn them off. Sometimes that’s true, but sometimes that’s not. Your neck muscles are no different than any other body part. The stronger it is, the better it can handle stress. So, if you’ve been finding that you’ve been trying to find the right stretch and you just can’t find it, or it helps temporarily but doesn’t give long term relief, I bet that adding some strengthening would be a good option.
Posture is a little overrated
99% (all numbers approximate!) of people that come in to see us tell us they have bad posture or they think posture is why their neck hurts. 99% of those people are able to get out of neck pain and we never need to “fix” their posture. Did you know that most research shows posture isn’t actually a usual cause of neck pain? AND, there’s more research that shows upright posture causes neck pain than “bad” posture causes neck pain (this blew my mind when I found this out and totally changed my mind about posture). So, instead of trying to hold yourself upright all day at your desk, we highly recommend setting yourself up so you can have a relaxed and comfortable position, rather than being rigid all day. Here’s a great video of how we’d recommend setting up your chair and desk to take tension off of your neck.
Breathing can make a big difference
One of the exercises we use the most to help people with neck pain is diaphragmatic breathing. When we’re under stress we typically end up breathing upwards through our chest, instead of our bellies. This makes our neck muscles work extremely hard and is a really common reason for neck pain. Once we retrain our breathing pattern, those muscles can relax and often gives people a ton of relief. Here’s a video of how we teach relaxed breathing.
There is so much more that can be done about neck pain, but since your neck pain is different from every single other person’s neck pain, it needs a different approach and there is no one size fits all answer. These are some of the most common tips that we give, though. While all three probably don’t apply to you, I’m hoping that at least one is helpful.
If you learn nothing else, I hope you learn that your neck pain can get better and that you don’t have to live with it, let it stop you from doing what you want to do, or think that it will be a lifelong thing. It can get better!
If we can help in any other way, please feel free to reach out anytime. Our company mission is to keep people in the DC area active and exercising and to take the fear out of pain so if there’s a way we can help you do that, we’d love to!