neck pains - Your Musculoskeletal Specialist

Search

closed eyes woman cupping her neck with both hands

Neck and Shoulder Pain At Work? Try this!

Even before Covid, people have been prone to spending hours in front of a computer, either for work, school, or even just for entertainment. This is what we are going to fix here by doing some simple neck and shoulder exercises for office workers.  And when we’re in front of computers, we tend to disregard our posture. Most people who sit in front of their computers all day tend to lean their necks forward. Long periods in this position are bound to give referral pain patterns. It is important to do short exercises that will get them into neck extension. Before we even begin with exercises, there is an important thing to consider. The chairs that you or your patients use must be of the right height for the legs and back. It must have back support and elbow rests. This is important because often, an uncomfortable chair can affect our posture when we sit, which is one of the leading causes of neck and shoulder pain.

Step-by-Step Guide for the Neck and Shoulder Office Exercise

In this article, I will share with you a few easy exercises to check your range. It is important to see how comfortable you are when you go into flexion, extension, and rotation. These exercises (neck and shoulder office exercises) will help determine whether you feel any restrictions in your movement whatsoever.

For the neck:

  1. Sit up straight, slowly tilt your head forward, bringing your chin to the chest.
  2. From this position, slowly tilt your head upward, until you are looking at the ceiling.
  3. Return to the starting position, looking straight ahead.
  4. Turn your head gently to the left, then to the right. Return to the starting position.
  5. Lastly, slowly lower your head to your right shoulder. You should be able to do this at a 45-degree angle without any restrictions. The shoulders should not hitch up, and instead, remain still.
  6. Return to the starting position, and repeat, slowly tilting towards the left shoulder.

Arm ranges to check with adductions, abductions, and flexions:

  1. For the starting position, hold your arms out on both sides.
  2. Raise both hands up overhead. Repeat 5 times. this is to check elevation.
  3. Return to starting position. Then slowly swing your arms forward to check horizontal flexion. Repeat 5 times.
  4. Return to starting position, then stretch them backward to check extension. Pull your shoulders back as far you can. Repeat 5 times.
  5. Lastly, do figure of 8 movements.

For the elbows:

  1. Hold out your arms in front of you, palms up.
  2. Bend your elbows up towards you. Repeat this 5 times, then return to the starting position.
  3. Twist your arms outward gently. This is to test internal and external rotation.
  4. Lastly, try to do the figure of 8s movement with your elbows.

For the wrists and hands:

  1. You will start with the same starting position as the one from elbows. Bend your wrists upward five times.
  2. Then, move them from side to side.
  3. Lastly, do figure of 8 movements.
  4. Go back to starting position, then flip your hand over so that your palms are facing down.
  5. Bend your fingers 5 times.
  6. Then stretch them out, holding them apart from each other. Repeat this five times
  7. Lastly, try making piano movements with your fingers.

Another tip for your neck and shoulder office exercises

After these neck and shoulder office exercises, make them go through the neck ranges again, to see if they get any changes. Another tip I have today is to tuck the chin back into your neck. I always use the analogy of pretending that someone you really don’t like is coming up to you and is trying to give you a great big kiss on the chin. Naturally, you would be recoiling your head back.
  1. Tuck the chin in. This is the starting position.
  2. Hold your arms out to your sides, and then pull your shoulders back, like step 4 for the arm movements. hold for 10 seconds.
  3. Relax.
  4. Repeat it 5 more times.
I recommend doing these 2 to 3 times every day, as doing so will give you a lot more flexibility as well as reduce the pain in your neck and shoulders. For a demonstration of the movements, please watch the video.
both hands massaging man's neck

Target Platysma or Neck Pain Easily using this Method!

This is one of my 3 favourite muscle names in the body – it’s in your neck and it’s called the platysma! First of all, what is the platysma? It is a muscle that begins at the jawline, right at the mandible, and runs down in a fan shape to the superior portion of the clavicle. It is responsible for helping the mouth and lips to move. Specifically, it is the muscle that we use when we react with fear or fright – when our mouth is drawn down or to the side.

Image from Wikipedia

Many therapists miss out on getting the best outcomes because they overlook this little muscle. In fact, did you know that a lot of neck-related pain can be traced to the platysma? As therapists, 75% of people entering our clinic complain of either neck or lower back pain! If you are focusing your techniques at the back, which is quite often joint-related or soft tissue around the traps, splenius, etc, then can I ask you to try this simple technique on your next neck pain client?

I could go as far as to say unless we address the tightness in the platysma. We won't get full neck movement.

Your First Moves

First, you must assess your client’s neck range. From a relaxed, sitting position, have your client lookup or go into full neck extension. Watch and be vigilant on the lift to note any tightness of the anterior neck esp the flat band of the platysma. Have your clients return to neutral or as neutral as they can. This video will show you step by step how I teach the muscle and surrounding soft tissue via way of an active glide. This way both of you are working together. Plus, they are increasing their afferent and efferent nervous system. They will also increase their agonists and antagonists, and myofascial trains.

Active Glide

For therapists out there, when we do active movements, it means that both you and your client or patients are actually actively involved in the process.

1. Stand on the treating side, in this case, stand on the right and have the client turn their head to the right, as far as they can go comfortably. 2. Place two fingers or knuckles. If you have OA issues just above their right clavicle at the midline closest to the supraclavicular notch and sink into the tissues. The fingers will be facing out towards the AC joint on the superior line of the clavicle so that you can take up the tissue along with its attachments. 3. Have your client slowly rotate their head back towards the left as far as they can go comfortably. 4. As they move their head allow your fingers to glide along with their muscle. Work with a pace that mimics the speed of the rotation and at the tension of the hypertonic muscle/fascia. 5. I always apply any technique three times before I re-assess. NB* make sure you DO re-assess! 6. Repeat the same process on the other side.

The Results

As you’re doing this, it should feel “tight” and “stretchy” or “burny” to your clients – all signs of fascia, muscle, and/or tendon. Have your clients test their range again, by moving their heads up, down, and side to side. The results can be astronomical in pain management, posture, and range. You should be able to see the tissues are not as taut as this time around.

The beauty of this work is that you can offer it to clients as homecare.  This is an attempt to release any ongoing restrictions felt in the neck. This is another cool technique that adds value along with the other ways to assist in neck pain that we've discussed in earlier videos.

Have fun and hope this helps you and your clients in the future!  
self stretching for head to the left

Self-Stretching to Soothe Sore Neck Muscles Fast

Are you one of the many people CONTINUALLY complaining of neck pain? Have you ever wondered why you usually feel pain in your neck muscles and what you can do about it? Answer this “What Can I Do To Get RID of this DAMN pain?” Let’s first talk about why you might be having this issue in the first place, why EXACTLY is your neck sore??

Why is your neck sore?

People usually experience neck pain for several reasons. But most of the time, one feels pain or stiffness of their neck muscles due to poor posture or overusing your neck. Sometimes, a bad fall or an injury causes neck pain. In our industry, we say ‘misuse’, ‘disuse’, ‘abuse’ or ‘overuse’. Actually most of the time, the pain usually subsides if left for a few days, the body simply self-heals. Neck pains lasting for more than a week needs some serious attention. Especially if accompanied by other symptoms which might include burning pain down the arms, weakness of the muscles of the neck and arms, severe headaches, etc. You should consult a doctor or therapist for further investigation and treatment. But if you feel that your neck is due to your posture or more like the muscles are always TURNED ON, then there a few self-stretching activities that you can do at your home. Do you suffer headaches that feel like they are coming from your neck or shoulders? Can you turn your head sideways properly when reversing your car? Do you get shoulder pain or eye tension?

SCM is the Culprit

If you answered yes to some of these then perhaps, we need to look at a neck muscle in the front of your body. The SCM is quite often the culprit that causes many of those problems. If your SCM or sternocleidomastoid muscle, which is attached to the skull just behind the ears and then glides in a long sweep to the center points of your collar bone. The role of the muscle is to:
  • turn your head
  • to help tilt it to the sides
  • and when STRESSED it pulls your chin forward into a chin tuck position.
This is a protection position but if left untreated will compress the back of your neck. Symptoms of this shortening and compression of the suboccipital muscles are:
  • headaches,
  • eye strain,
  • vertigo (sometimes), and
  • tinnitus with lots of general neck pain
  • in chronic states also upper back pain
By making the SCM muscle longer, it encourages our head placement from chin poke into a more healthy “normal” head position and neck alignment. The stretch that I’m going to teach you is pretty easy and you can do this anytime in the comfort of your home. Here are the steps that you should do to do this stretch.
  1. Go to a mirror because you need to look at your SCM muscle and get an idea of what it does. You will see the SCM muscle when you turn your head sideways, it is that strong thick muscle at the front of your neck, it may or may not be visible but you can generally feel it with your fingers.
  2. Next, we shorten and therefore soften your SCM muscle by turning your ear to the front and lowering your head so the ear is dropping down to your collar bone.
  3. Now take hold of that softened muscle and gently starts to bring your head back up to normal and then extend the head so that the opposite ear is directed to the shoulder blade. You’ll feel your fingers sliding down your SCM muscle every time you repeat this shortening and lengthening movement. This promotes a stretch that is also called an active stretch or a myofascial release technique. Shorten your muscle then come up and gently pull your muscle down to get a really good neck stretch muscle.  And you need to do these steps three times for each side of your neck.
  4. Once you completed on one side, you need to do the same steps on the other side of your neck. So again, do the head movements into neck flexion with an ear to the front and then back into neck extension with the opposite ear to the shoulder blade. You might feel a few lumps, bumps, painful spots along with the SCM muscle. That’s perfectly NORMAL for someone with neck issues. Over time these will ‘iron’ out and your head position return to one your therapist will be happy with. You’ll also feel a nice long stretch all the way along with this overused muscle group. Now repeat these steps again 3 times.
So there you have it. I hope you find this article useful for you. These stretches are simple, easy to apply, and can be done pretty much anytime or anywhere. The tip is whenever you feel neck pain or any symptoms related to SCM muscles you know the first of many options is to apply this stretch.

Glutes and Hamstrings Easy Stretching while Sitting

Being an office worker can be a REAL hazard to how your muscles naturally align, how strong they are, and in too many cases how SHORT they can become!! We tend to think of upper body strains e.g. that tight NECK and SHOULDERS but we need to address your lower body as well. This is especially true if you’re sitting for long hours and to be fair who isn’t RIGHT?? What happens is that your hip flexors tend to shorten, this in turn creates tightness of your quadriceps, and to make matters WORSE this causes your hamstrings to pull up feeling stiff and short. We now have tight and shortened hamstrings that have close links to weakened buttocks and tight deep hip rotators. The remedy is to take the time to stretch your upper body which is our necks, shoulders, and chest, AND include stretches to your lower body - butt, hamstrings, quads, and calves. So, when you’re waiting for those files to download or just taking a well-earned break, you can apply these two stretches in an easy seated position. I mean what could be EASIER!! Stretch number ONE is for your buttocks or gluteus. But let us first have a little background about this muscle group. The gluteal muscle group is composed of three muscles-- gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. This team of muscles creates the shape of your buttocks and work together when you sit to stand and walk, run, sidestep, the list goes on. The gluteus maximus is one of the strongest muscles in our body and is mainly responsible for the backward movement of the thighs and legs, aided by the two remaining gluteus muscles. Let’s unpack the damage long periods of sitting does - your gluteus minimus tends to weaken and some people complain of the feeling of a “numb-bum”. This can be caused by restriction to the blood supply to the muscle or it can be that the shortened muscles impact some of our nerves. The sciatic nerve is deep in the gluteal group but we will talk about that in a separate article.  Stretching the buttocks region (as shown in this small video) is one way to alleviate this feeling of pain or numbness. To do this while sitting down, first, you need to swing one leg over the other in a crossed position, while making sure that you are not crouching forward. The KEY is that your back STRAIGHT sits as tall as you can and just bend forward from the hips. What you are actually feeling is a stretch in your glutes and not a curve in your back. Again, most people get this stretch wrong by doing a curved crouching position. You need to keep in mind that you're doing this stretch for your buttocks and NOT for your BACK. This is a good glute stretch and tries to stay there for about 20 seconds, repeat for the other leg to definitely reap its benefits. Now, after the glute stretch, we want to do the hamstring stretch. Again, let me tell you about the hamstring muscles. Hamstring muscles are located in the posterior compartment of our things. This muscle group consists of three muscles: biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus. These muscles help in movements of the knee, hip, and legs while running, walking, bending your knees, and squatting. So the most common injuries in the hamstring muscles come from a sports injury. While this holds true, sitting for long periods of hours can make your hamstrings tight so it's best to stretch those muscles to avoid tightness. We stretch the hamstrings in the seated position too! All you need to do is to move a little further forward on your chair. Straighten out one leg but don’t LOCK the knee, we want to focus on the muscles and NOT the nerves in this manoeuver. Now just lean forward as far as you can. Again, you need to make sure that your back is straight and not curved so that the focus of the stretch is not on your back but on your hamstring muscles. Your ankles can be more relaxed here too so you can focus on your hamstrings and NOT the calves. Yep, that will be in another article for you to focus on! You can do this stretch for about 15 to 20 seconds for each leg. Both glute and hamstring stretches are easy to do and can be managed into your workday without disruption. Work time, break time – really anytime within your day. I hope you find these stretches useful. Try to apply them especially if you suffer from lower back pain and watch out for my next article in my journey to keep you balanced, stable, pain free and self-managed in work, rest or play. [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]
Back to Top
Product has been added to your cart