Just like other muscles in your body, your neck can be exercised and strengthened to improve range of motion and prevent pain. However, most of us take for granted a pain-free neck. It’s only when we have stiffness or pain that we wish we would have taken preventive measures.
Your neck, the most flexible part of your spine, isn’t well-protected by muscles. It’s vulnerable to injury, which can lead to shoulder, upper back and/or arm pain. Neck pain may also be caused by the following:
- Herniated cervical disk
- Congenital abnormalities of the vertebrae and bones
5 Exercises to Prevent an Aching Neck
Neck pain can often be prevented with simple exercises, but make sure you check with your physician before starting. Remember to stop at once if any movement causes you pain.
- Rotations – Sitting or standing, turn your head slowly to the left and then to the right as far as you can, comfortably. Hold each stretch for 10 seconds to 30 seconds.
- Shoulder Circles – While standing, raise your shoulders straight up, and then move them in a circle around, down and back up again. Circle in both directions.
- Side Stretches – While standing, stretch your neck slowly to the left trying to touch your ear to your shoulder. Repeat on the right side.
- Resistance Exercises – Place your right hand against your head above your ear and gently press, resisting the movement with your neck. Do the same with your left hand on the other side.
- Head Lifts – Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift and lower your head, keeping your shoulders flat on the floor. Next, lie on one side and lift your head toward the ceiling. Repeat this movement on your other side and while lying on your stomach.
Proper neck posture while working and resting can also offer you protection from neck pain. The American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation suggests:
- Don’t sit in one place for a long time.
- Don’t sleep with too many pillows or with a pillow that’s too thick.
- When talking on the phone, don’t cradle the phone between your head and shoulder.
- If you’re reading or using a mobile device, raise them to eye level.
- If you have corrected vision, keep your prescription current so you don’t have to crane your neck forward to see clearly.
- Adjust your desk chair so your hips are slightly higher than your knees.
- When traveling, place a small pillow or rolled up towel between your neck and the headrest.
If you have neck pain and it persists or you have numbness or tingling, make an appointment with one of our physicians.