Essential Tips for Easing Neck Pain at Home

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Amongst so many ups and downs in our daily lives this year, one issue that likely, and unfortunately, did not go away is your neck pain. 

Research shows, in increased times of stress and uncertainty, our aches and pains tend to worsen and neck pain is a very common symptom of persistent stress. Ahhh, we need neck pain relief more than ever now!

If this describes you, you are not alone! Neck pain affects up to 75% of the entire population (1).

Well, have no fear because research also tells us bombproof ways to ease neck pain at home with, or without, increased stress. 

Here are 5 proven home remedies for neck pain: 

  1. Do Not Worry
    We have a lot on our minds amidst the coronavirus.  The last thing we need is more to worry about.  So, here’s a good thought: Don’t worry about your neck pain. What do I mean? Neck pain is unlikely to be indicative of anything serious. Even if it feels serious or your Xrays and MRIs say you have “degeneration,” a great majority of the time the pain is caused simply by tightness in muscles. Recognize muscle tightness is easy to fix with stretching, exercise and self massage. We know worry makes pain worse and it helps our healing us to appreciate neck pain is usually not anything serious. Acknowledge you have the power to achieve neck pain relief, even if you’ve had it for many years, and “bad” X-rays and MRIs do not ensure you will experience pain forever. 
  1. Sit Properly
    Improving your posture during your workday is one of the best ways to relieve your neck pain. If you’re working from home, you're likely sitting for most of your day. And you’re likely not sitting in the most fantastic chair.  Poor posture increases the activity of the neck muscles by about 35% and increases internal pressure on your intervertebral discs (2)

    So how do you improve your posture and get relief from neck pain? First, take breaks from sitting every 30 minutes.  Simply standing up helps, but a quick walk around the room helps more. Second, imagine you were carrying one of those large baskets of bananas on your head. How would you line up your body to carry this weight? You would pull your head back slightly so it would be directly over your hips. Whether sitting or standing, this is good posture: head directly over hips. A very slightly more upright posture can become intuitive in about 2 months and has been proven to relieve neck pain while working from home. 
  1. Stretch & Mobilize
    This one sounds familiar to you and your probably already naturally stretching your neck throughout the day.  But there’s more you can do.  First, stretch more consistently; set an egg timer and do 3 neck circles each way every 30 minutes. Sitting still is the enemy and any consistent movement will help relieve neck pain in the home office.

    If you have a specific stretch that feels good, doesn’t matter what it is, do it regularly, or until it doesn’t feel good anymore. 

    Here are 2 stretches you likely haven’t thought of but have been shown to provide neck pain relief: 

    a.
    Sitting cat/camel:  This stretch relieves neck pain by loosening up the upper back. A very effective stretch for neck pain relief!

                              
    b. Levator Stretch: This hits the sweet spot for relieving most peoples’ neck pain. Stretch for 10 seconds x 3 reps. Repeat as needed throughout the day (but be consistent!)
                        

Self Massage & Vibration
Not enough people with pain do self-massage with vibration regularly.  The pay off can be huge with many folks getting prolonged relief from neck pain. Self-massage and vibration are critical parts of relieving neck pain as they stimulate blood flow and decrease pain and muscle soreness.

Here’s how you do self-massage with vibration in 3 easy steps:

  1. Grab a vibrating massage tool.  I recommend Vibe Rollers Vibe Hex Pro due to various levels of intensity, smooth vibration and grippy texture keeps it in the right place. 
  2. Place it between you and a high back work chair so it contacts the upper back/lower neck (see image).
  3. Continue working while the vibration and pressure causes neck pain relief.  

                             

    Lift Weights
    The experts agree exercise is a critical part of how best to relieve neck pain (3). This means if you aren’t lifting weights, no matter how bad your neck pain is, you're not doing everything you can to reduce your neck pain. 

    Here are tips to how to start lifting weights for neck pain:

    1. Start small in intensity, duration and frequency.  Start with 5-10 minutes of lifting the lightest weights.  Take every other day off.
    2. Gradually add weight, progress to 10-15 minutes and progress to doing some lifting daily. 
    3. If you build slowly, your pain will go down over time!


    What if you do the above for 3 months consistently without improvement? It’s time to seek the care of an orthopedic doctor of physical therapy, massage therapist or chiropractor (or a combo of any of the three).  They can fix more stubborn neck pain that fixing on your own might be too difficult.  But most people can find quality neck pain relief at home from the above tips! 

    References:

    1. Fejer R., Kyvik K.O., Hartvigsen J. The prevalence of neck pain in the world population: a systematic critical review of the literature. Eur Spine J. 2006;15:834–848.
    2. Genebraa CS, Maciel NM, Thiago Bento PF, Simeãoc SP, Vittaa AD. Prevalence and factors associated with neck pain: a population-based study. Braz J Phys Ther. 2017 Jul-Aug; 21(4): 274–280
    3. Cohen SP, Hooten WM. Advances in the diagnosis and management of neck pain. BMJ. 2017 Aug 14;358:j3221.

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