Neck Pain Exercises-treat your own neck pain by using the best neck exercises and learn which are the worst for your neck.

Neck Pain exercises

McKenzie Neck Exercises

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Here are how to do the McKenzie neck exercises correctly. They are by far the best exercises to do for the majority of neck pain for a couple of very good reasons.

The first reason is that they are designed to put extension forces onto the lower cervical vertebrae which is exactly what you should be doing (but  more of that later).

The one thing that i would like to add is that these are very good exercises but they are simply that, exercises. They must be used in conjunction with good postural habits, that is sitting and standing ‘tall’.

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A Neck Pain Exercise perfect for those who use computers a lot

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Here is a neck pain exercise which is one of my all time favourites. It is one of the best for those who spend long hours in front of the computer. It not only stretches the neck but also stretches out the lower back at the same time. Do this every hour or so. Remember also that if your job requires you to sit for a long time that even if your posture is excellent at all times you still need to take breaks.

Even a sitting posture that is considered perfect still loads the disc heavily due to gravity. Therefore to decompress the spine a little, get up, move around and do a couple of these stretches. It will also refresh your mind by taking a break

  • stand upright and put your right hand behind your back trying to touch your left buttock

 

  • Tilt your head to the left trying to touch your left ear to your left shoulder. keep your head straight( you may want to do this in front to a mirror first to see that you are doing it correctly)

 

  • slide your left hand down the side of your left leg

 

  • Do not lean forward or back and don’t let your head come forward.

 

  • If you want to enhance this stretch, cross your right foot over your left foot and gently push your hips to the right. this will stretch you from your lower back all the way to your neck

 

  • Remember, with all stretches you only want to feel a gentle stretch not ‘no pain, no gain’. Hold for 20 seconds.

 

  • Be careful as this is also an exercise in achieving good balance with your legs crossed over.

 

  • Enjoy!

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Neck Exercises to Fix your Pain

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If you have neck pain or a stiff and painful neck here are the best and worst neck exercises to do and why.
I have been specializing in treating necks for 20 years throughout the world and the majority of people have the same problem with their necks. It is easy to fix once you know how and why. The major reason people have neck problems are from poor posture. The estimates are around 80% of neck problems are due tom poor posture. That’s the good news! After all, if 80% of neck pain was due to something like cancers then the news would be much worse as cancers are obviously much more difficult to treat. And I am certain if we didn’t have cars and whiplash injuries then the incidence of neck pain due to poor posture would be up around 90 plus percent.
So if the good news is that we pretty much all have neck pain due to postural problems then how do we go about fixing it? We need to firstly adjust our posture and secondly do some neck exercises. The neck exercises however must be not only done correctly but also must be chosen correctly. After all, the last thing you want to do is worsen your condition by doing the wrong ones. And this happens unfortunately all of the time. I see it in my clinic nearly every day. People come in with disc bulges that are getting worse and worse and have been trying to help it by doing exercises like bringing their chin to their chest. This is one of the worst neck exercises you could possibly do to a posterior neck disc bulge (which the majorities are- more of that later) as it pushes the disc further in the wrong direction.
So we now know that your neck pain is quite easy to fix if you do two things: remove the causes-bad posture and do some corrective exercises that help your neck and don’t push the structures in the wrong direction worsening your condition.
Our posture is worst at computers, reading and even driving. Now we have a major problem with neck problems due to text messaging.However, the good news is still that it is all postural therefore habitual and therefore under our control. In other words, if you can slouch at your computer you can also sit upright at your computer and remove your cause of your neck pain-it’s a choice. You have got into the habit of sitting and even standing poorly and you can change that habit simply by being more conscious of your posture and sitting and standing TALL.
When you slouch at your computer or when you are reading or driving with your head in what is known as a forward head posture you create enormous stresses on your neck. In fact, every inch your head moves out of correct postural position (your ears should be directly over the centre or midline of your shoulders) and into the forward head posture you create an extra 10lbs of weight for your neck to carry. Your head weighs about 8-10lbs but when you slouch you can create an extra 20-30lbs of weight from poor posture on your neck! Think what it would be like if I asked you to hold a 25lb weight in your hand with your arm outstretched for an hour or two. Firstly, you would never be able to do it because it would be too much strain on your shoulder. However, this is exactly what you ask of your neck every day when you are in poor posture.
This is why the Mayo clinic also say that ‘a forward head posture leads to long term muscle strains, disc herniations and pinched nerves’. They don’t even say could lead to or may lead to or even might lead to, it is straight forward ‘the FHP leads to…’ no ‘if’s’, ‘buts’, or ‘maybe’s’.
The forward head posture is also known as a protracted posture. Your head is in a protracted position. The opposite of this movement is retraction. So if protraction is worsening your neck we need not only to be keeping our heads in a neutral position to remain in good posture at all times but also give our necks some exercises to remove the stresses from all of this long term protracted positioning. If you are in pain do these exercises every hour until you are out of pain and then continue to do them 2-3 times a day as maintenance.

This should be done every waking hour, 10 repetitions with 3 second holds.

The double chin-the good, the bad and the ugly

The good…

• Draw your head backwards without your chin lifting up. Keep your chin tucked in and down you may need to look into a mirror a first to do this. Draw it back as far as you can comfortably. You want to repeat this 10 times and hold for 3 seconds. Draw it back as far as you can, hold for 3 seconds and release.
• Remember to breathe and relax.

…the bad and the ugly

• Lifting your chin up
• Forgetting to breathe and relax

If pain allows include this as well. Do 10 repetitions and turn your head about an inch each side 3 times. If it is too painful just continue with the double chin exercises until you can do the tennis in the sky exercise

Tennis in the sky-the good, the bad and the ugly

The good…

• Now that you have done the double chin, you need to follow up with “tennis in the sky”. Please note that if your pain is still too severe, just stick with the double chin until you can progress to this one.
• Start by doing the double chin and then look toward the sky without letting the chin jut forwards. Look up as far as possible and then look to the left and right as if you were watching a tennis match. Don’t do it too slowly nor too quickly, should it be about the pace of watching tennis match in a baseline rally and only allow the head to move a little way each side (you nose moves about an inch to the left and right).
• As you do this, try to extend your head further and further back as far as you can you are trying to look further and further behind you on the ceiling.
• Look upwards and turn your head side to side 3 times and then return your head to the starting position.
• Repeat this 10 times
• Remember to breathe and relax

…the bad and the ugly

• Allowing your head to jut forward when you extend. This is a common mistake, you must retract your head backwards first (creating the double chin) and then look upwards.
• Forgetting to extend your head back as far as possible( as pain permits)
• Forgetting to breathe and relax

What to do if you still have some pain

So you have been doing your exercises for 5-6 days now but you still have some pain. If the Pain is to one side you can also include this exercise. You bend your head TOWARDS THE SIDE OF THE PAIN. Let’s say you have pain on your left hand side still.

You should sit tall once again and take your left ear to your left shoulder. You are bending your head over to the left towards your left shoulder but your must make sure that you keep your head looking forwards. It is very common for people to want to turn their heads a little as they do this because they get their head a little further down but it is wrong.
The other thing that is important to do is keep lifting your head as you do this. When you bend your head to the side make sure that you have the feeling of lifting your head upwards the whole time you do this. It’s very much as if you were being pulled by a string from the top of your head. Keep that feeling of being pulled up as you bend to the side with your head. This will keep you from compressing your joints too much and help stretch the soft tissues as well as opening up the joint spaces. Hold the stretch for 3 seconds and then return to centre. Repeat 10 times and then do the same on the other side.
Do not put your hand on your head to pull it to the side as this will compress your joints! Keep the feeling of being lifted throughout the entire stretch.
Then you can follow this exercise with the double chin and tennis in the sky just like before. Continue to do these exercises until you are out of pain.

Related Links:

The major cause of Neck Pain

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The Best stretches for stiff necks

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Are you one of those people who have to reverse their car out of the driveway by looking into the rear vision mirror because your neck is too stiff to turn around? Or did you just wake up with a stiff neck and can’t turn your head? These two types of stiff necks must be treated differently.
Whether you have a chronic stiff neck or you have just woken up with a stiff neck and it’s very painful you must do some neck exercises and stretches. The only problem is that if you don’t know which ones to do or don’t do them properly you could do more harm than good.

There are basically two types of stiff necks. The stiff neck as I have just described above which is chronic in nature, in other words you have had this for a long time, and the other one is where you have just woken up with it and you can’t turn your head and its very painful. This type of neck pain and stiffness is normally characterized by being painful to turn to one side and also to bend your head to the same side. It is also very uncomfortable. It is vitally important that you know how to treat these two types of neck pain properly because they need to be treated differently.
Neck stretches for a Type 1 stiff neck:
These are for the people who have had a stiff neck for a long time and have lost range of movement. Their necks have seized yup somewhat and need to get it mobile again.
This must be done carefully and properly.
The first thing that you must do is make sure that your posture is excellent at all times so that you are not hurting your neck all day every day and causing pain.
These exercises can be done 3 times a day every day. Sit tall in a chair (this means that you are not slouched, you are sitting upright and your lower back has an inward arch-the way you should be sitting! – if you do not do this your neck is being compressed whilst you are doing these which is not good) and turn your head to the left as far as it will comfortably go. Hold for one second and return to centre. Repeat these 10 times then do the same for the other side. If you have no problems doing this you can also do what is called overpressure. This means that when you have turned your head as far as it will comfortably go you can use your hand to press gently onto your cheek to push it a little further around to the left or right. This is excellent in helping gain even more range of motion.
The next exercise you should be doing is to sit tall once again and take your left ear to your left shoulder. You are bending your head over to the left towards your left shoulder but your must make sure that you keep your head looking forwards. It is very common for people to want to turn their heads a little as they do this because they get their head a little further down but it is wrong.
The other thing that is important to do is keep lifting your head as you do this. When you bend your head to the side make sure that you have the feeling of lifting your head upwards the whole time you do this. It’s very much as if you were being pulled by a string from the top of your head. Keep that feeling of being pulled up as you bend to the side with your head. This will keep you from compressing your joints too much and help stretch the soft tissues as well as opening up the joint spaces. Hold the stretch for 3 seconds and then return to centre. Repeat 10 times and then do the same on the other side.
Do not put your hand on your head to pull it to the side as this will compress your joints! Keep the feeling of being lifted throughout the entire stretch.
These two simple exercises will help you regain movement if you consistently do them on a regular basis.
You must also make sure that your sleeping positions, pillows and posture are correct so that you are not exacerbating your condition.
The neck stretches for a type 2 stiff neck:
The stretches for this are completely different because the reason you have a stiff neck is also completely different. You have more than likely slept poorly or very soundly and not turned over at all during the night which has reset your resting muscles length and in turn left you with a stiff neck.
This neck problem has not come about generally from one night’s sleep. I would expect you have been spending a lot of time in front of the computer or drove a great deal or just have had your neck in a poor postural position for too long. Your neck is like this because of an accumulation of bad postural habits and this is the straw that broke the camel’s back. You must start addressing your neck posture immediately! If you do not; you will have this problem again. I promise you.

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Stretching..here is one of the worst to do

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Here is probably the stretch you least need to do because it worsens your problems.

As you sit reading this I would imagine the majority of you are slouched over your computer with very poor posture, so before we go any further, sit up straight please!
One problem with spending so much time slouching over computers and driving with our necks craned forwards etc is that we constantly tighten our muscles around our chest area. This forward shoulder posture is almost endemic in our society these days due to poor posture and having tight pectorals leaves the opposite muscles too long and weakened. These are the muscles at the back of the shoulders and shoulder blades. The more you slouch the further your shoulders move forward and rotate internally. Then your shoulder blades are pulled wider apart around your ribcage and before you know it you are suffering with shoulder pain, rotator cuff problems, impingements, pinched nerves etc and its all easily remedied and totally preventable.
An easy way to check if your shoulders are rotated inwards is to stand up and check your thumbs. Do they points inwards? They should be pointing forwards. The further inwards they point, the more your shoulder is rotated and hence pulled forwards. This is very damaging to the shoulder! You need to do stretches to both stretch your pectorals and strengthen several of the external rotator muscles and scapula stabilisers so that you do not suffer in the future.
Therefore, if you have a postural problem like this (most people do) you should not be doing the stretch where you grab your arm and take it horizontally across your body to stretch the back of your shoulders. This is worsening your problem! You have weak and elongated muscles and tendons already and if you stretch these by pulling your arm in front of your body you exacerbate your problem and worsen your muscular imbalances. This is just one example of stretching the overstretched muscles.

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Neck exercises for a stiff neck-what you must do

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If you have a stiff neck and have decided to embark on an exercise program to ease those tired aching muscles here is what you must and must not do. Let’s say for example that you have just done my exercises to fix your pinched nerve but still have some residual stiffness. You can do exercises such as rotating your head from side to side slowly and if you like, you can also gently press your head further into that direction once you get to your end range. This is called overpressure. Once you have rotated your head as far as it will go comfortably you can put your hand on your cheekbone and very gently press to rotate your head a little more. Make sure you do not force. This is a simple and effective way to gain more range of motion. Press on your cheekbone not on your jawbone to avoid upsetting your TMJ joints.

What you must do is keep your head slightly retracted throughout this exercise. Do not allow your head to go into a forward head position. You should already know how damaging the forward head posture is by now, if not I implore you to read my article ‘ the major cause of neck pain’ because the last thing you want to do is have good postural habits throughout the day and then go and wreck it when you do your exercises!

Another good exercise to do is to do what is known as lateral flexion. The easiest way to remember this is ‘try to touch your ear to your shoulder’. A common problem people have with this exercise is that they turn their heads slightly when doing this. This is because you gain a little more range or motion but in my class this is know as cheating. Therefore, a good idea is to check you are doing this one correctly by doing it in the mirror. Keep your nose facing forwards.
The same goes for this exercise as for the one above, you must have your head in good alignment, ears over your shoulders. Do not allow your ears to come in front of your shoulders or you start to regress into the forward head position again. Remember, every inch your ears are forward of your shoulders creates another 10 lbs of weight for your neck to carry.

For more on this read:

Neck Exercises-The Best and Worst to do and why

stretches for stiff necks

Stretching- Here is one of the worst to do

Which exercises should you do for a pinched nerve

The stretch you should not do for Neck and Shoulder pain

Read More