Neck pain is a common condition that will affect most people at some point in their lives. Neck pain can often extend from the the base of the skull out towards the shoulders and to the mid back. Headaches are also often associated with neck pain.
There are many different causes of neck pain, including poor posture,sleeping in an awkward position and prolonged computer, phone or tablet use.
These last 3 could also be known as ‘i hump’ ‘text neck‘ and ‘tablet stoop‘.
Muscle strain or injury, stress and arthritis or wear and tear of the joints in the neck (which is associated with normal ageing), can also be associated with a sore neck.
You should of course, always consult your doctor if:
your neck pain is getting worse,
you have a fever as well as neck pain,
the pain doesn’t ease or settle after 5-7 days,
you have numbness, tingling or pins and needles in your arms or legs
you start having difficulties with your bladder or bowel
Managing Neck Pain
In the physio clinic, we treat neck pain with a variety of hands on techniques including (but not limited to) mobilisation, stretches, specific exercises and massage. We also know that a clients neck pain often improves when the adjacent spinal region (ie the thoracic spine) is treated. There are several theories as to why this may occur, the simplest explanation being that if your mid-back is stiff, then your neck endures more stress. So when we mobilise or treat the thoracic spine, neck pain often improves.
Now, if you are not being treated in the clinic by a physiotherapist, or want to manage your pain yourself, what can you do?
Enter the humble foam roller. It can be a great tool to ease neck pain and discomfort. Used regularly, your foam roller can then maintain your pain-free neck.
At 90 cm x 15cm diameter, a foam roller is the perfect size to lay on. If all you did with the foam roller was to simply lay lengthwise on the roller for a few minutes you would have had a gentle stretch. Gravity and your own body weight as you lay on the roller will help to gently stretch all the structures that lie close to the spine. Your neck in particular will be encouraged to gently stretch, especially if you tuck your chin lightly. In this way you are reducing the ‘poke’ neck posture that many people develop when sitting for lengthy periods, or using their devices constantly.
The following exercises are a small sample of simple, but effective ways that you can manage and ease neck pain with a foam roller, a small ball and a noodle.
Detailed exercise descriptions are available by clicking on the exercise heading or consulting the main exercise menu.
I recommend trying each exercise; you can perform them in any order.
Then you should choose the best 2-3 exercises that ease your symptoms. Ideally, repeat these exercises daily or twice daily for long term neck pain relief.