We all know that instant when we pull a neck muscle. You’re laughing at a joke, you’re sitting at your desk all day, you’re hitting the gym, you’re watching Netflix when out of nowhere, you’re in agonizing pain!
It seems like any little thing can cause this torment, and guess what-- any little thing CAN do it!
Which is why it is so important to prevent neck injury and receive instant, effective treatment for immediate relief. Today we are going to discuss 5 EFFECTIVE ways you, personally, can relieve neck pain at home. This is the Do It Yourself of neck relief.
Before we get started...disclaimer - it is always important to speak with an experienced doctor about medical ailments and chronic pain. As an Upper Cervical Chiropractor, I’m here for you. If you have further questions or need extra healing, just contact me.
Okay, let’s get started on a path to kicking that neck pain to the curb!
This first one might seem obvious, but it’s surprising how easy it is to forget, or even accidentally just get wrong… You need to exercise appropriately! Our bodies are made to move, people. We need to be out there, getting stronger, hitting the gym harder, running farther, swimming faster-- being powerful! This is what we are made for, but we know it can be hard.
Fitness can be a commitment that takes energy and we don’t enter a workout facility with any pre-programmed knowledge of the equipment, weights, machines, or exercises. As a certified, experienced, personal trainer, I know that reaching out to a professional could be the first step to a healthier, stronger, fitter, pain-free you!
I tell all of the people I work with -- STRETCH! Stretch that beautiful, strong body. Stretch for injury prevention. Stretch for pain relief!
Let’s look at one of my stretches now and see what it can do for you!
The levator scapulae stretch is designed to alleviate the pain associated with a “stiff neck” (that pain we all get from sitting at our desks all day, carrying a heavy bag, or even just walking around in heavy coats!) The levator scapulae is one of the BIGGEST culprits in neck pain - so let’s see what we can do about it!
I would advise doing this simple stretch 45 seconds every day on both sides (this is a right and left side kind of thing!). Let’s start with stretching out the left levator scapulae. First, you have to square those shoulder, driving your shoulder blades back and down, and then laterally flex your neck to the RIGHT (seems counterintuitive at first, we know! But it works!). Then, slowly rotate the neck so you’re actually looking down at your RIGHT underarm.
Then, with your RIGHT hand, reach around the top of your head and pull from the bottom of the left side of your skull, gently with your fingers. THAT’S IT. Relief is literally at your fingertips.
Now that we are stretching and remembering the importance of exercise, what other things can we watch out for? Posture! Posture is so much more important than most people realize. When you have good posture, your body is actually functioning at a healthier level, because you’re reducing unnecessary strain on your muscles and ligaments.
Let’s look at just one simple tip for improving posture. We call this one the Snow Angel and you’re going to love it! All you need is your body and the floor. No excuses now-- go ahead and get on your back.
You now need to lay your arms out and bend your elbows, so your forearms and hands are resting on the floor, parallel to your neck and head. You will be keeping your arms in contact with the floor the whole time, which helps open the chest and extend those tight muscles and also ensures that you are engaging all those back muscles that need strengthening! Now, reach overhead, almost like a diver!
That’s it. This simple, proven tactic for improving posture can help you instantly.
We are pretty much half-way to neck pain relief! The next step is one that all you strong, mindful people know and love -- MEDITATION. That’s right. We are going to focus on mindfulness and BREATHING. Does it get any better? No, we didn’t think so either.
Let’s get started. Lie back down on that floor (yes, again). Place one hand, palm open, on your chest. Place the other on your stomach. Your legs should be bent - so knees are up but feet are flat on the ground. Now, most people are actually breathing wrong! People get in this position and they start CHEST breathing, you can see the rise and fall right there in the top of the chest. You can actually see this when someone is in this position because only the top hand, resting on the chest, will move - your lower hand, on the stomach, stays still. This is all wrong.
What is really interesting is that this simple breathing mistake can cause neck pain, because muscles in the neck are straining to open up the rib cage. This pain is treatable, and more importantly, it is 100% avoidable.
What we want is for that lower, stomach hand to be naturally rising as our abdomen expands with deep, healthy, breathing. Just focus on this breathing. Your breath has the power to focus your mind on the now, on the present.
Experience healthier breathing practices and experience the power of mindfulness by working on this breathing technique throughout the day. Aim for getting these breaths perfect 10 times a day if you can!
This next step is one everyone enjoys -- massage.
Now, let’s focus on the upper trapezius muscle trigger point because this is a muscle that really gets irritated easily! How? Desk work, staying on the phone for too long, or even just carrying a heavy purse or bag. It seems crazy how fragile the human body is sometimes, but it is important to remember it is also STRONG and POWERFUL!
The upper trap muscles are an important area to focus on because when irritated, they can actually cause headaches and terrible neck pain. Taking care of this muscle not only prevents this kind of pain, but it also ensures we are maintaining beautiful posture.
Finding the trapezius muscles is actually pretty easy - they’re the muscles we feel when we shrug! Often, we can feel “knots” of pain in this area. Let’s see how you can alleviate this with just a simple massage.
You can help relieve this pain with either just your fingers or by using a firm tennis ball. Find a sturdy wall you can safely lean against. Locate the “knot” or site of pain and simply place the ball under the site of pain, and roll your muscle over it gently a few times with pressure in a light rotating motion. Repeat as necessary -- feel free to go over it about 20 times.
You can do this simple massage a few times a day, but it is important you do not aggravate the tender trapezius muscle. If you’re unsure, ask for help! This leads to our final pain relief tip…
Know when it’s time to see an Upper Cervical Specialist!
If you’ve never been to a chiropractor it can be confusing knowing if and when to make that first appointment. Let’s look at a few tell-tale signs you should be getting chiropractic help from an experienced professional.
- Chronic pain - chronic pain in our muscles and joints, or a searing shooting pain in our limbs, could all be serious signs you should be seeing a chiropractor. Misalignment could be leading to a trapped nerve or muscle fatigue - an experienced chiropractor can help!
- You have a desk job - this one might sound crazy, but the sedentary lifestyle is incredibly damaging to your health. Sitting for hours at a time can negatively impact your posture and muscles!
- Unexplained neck pain - tingling, impaired mobility (look left, now right-- hows it feel?), numbness in the area. These could all be signs it’s time to check in with an Upper Cervical Chiropractor today.
- When you’re ready to make a commitment to improving your health! This might be the most important sign. Leading a healthy, vibrant life, can start today.
Through a consultation and routine x-rays, we will discover the underlying cause of your pain.
Pain relief is possible when you reach out for help.
About Dr. Anjannette Price, DC
Dr. Anjannette has spent more than ten years not just helping, but healing clients from all different walks of life. She specialized in Upper Cervical Chiropractic when studying at Life Chiropractic College West; today she focuses predominantly on the nervous system, with an emphasis on brainstem function. In her free time, Dr. Anjannette travels abroad to provide free care to communities with limited access to such services. Most recently, she traveled to El Salvador and worked in a team setting to help more than 10,000 local people receive care.
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If you feel you may be suffering from the negative impacts of a subluxation, contact Dr. Anjannette today and receive a free Health Assessment. Getting the care you need can ensure you are living at your strongest. Don’t let a misalignment hold you back!