There are plenty of self treatment strategies and ideas that I give to many of my patients to treat their pain. One of the most important things that every patient should know about PT is the 99:1 Rule. The time spent in the clinic accounts for 1%, The other 99% is the time spent making positive changes on your symptoms. That 99% holds much more value than any time spent with your therapist. Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks to fix neck pain and optimize your 99%.
Constant posture adjustment
Frequently changing positions will be the best way to combat neck stiffness and pain. As stated previously, in Neck Pain Epidemic Part I, “your NEXT posture is your BEST posture.” When you can, just get up from your desk, your airplane seat, or whatever you are sitting on. MOVE! If you just can not get up, simply roll your shoulders, look up, down, left and right. Try it right now…. felt a bit better, huh?
First, sit up with good alignment of your head, neck and shoulders. Be sure you can reach the pedals and steering wheel comfortably (adjust the seat as necessary).
Then, adjust your mirrors to allow yourself to be able to see with them. If you begin to slump, the minute you try to use your mirrors, you will notice that you have lost that posture and will re-adjust.
This is a topic for a whole other discussion, however, desk set-up is KEY. Here are a few things to consider:
- First, If you are constantly performing a repetitive movement with one arm or one side of your body (ie. Using a mouse, reaching for a phone, holding your phone to your ear), your body will eventually create an imbalance and a habit. This can lead to repetitive overuse and possibly pain. Try and switch it up! Use a headset, bring your mouse more in front of your body on a small keyboard shelf, or frequently change the placement of your document holder.
- Second, if your computer height is below eye level, you may be subject to a constant forward head position. This can lead to overload stress on all the muscles on the back side of your neck. Additionally, the distance you are from your keyboard or mouse can lead to straining in that forward position as well. This, my friends can really create chronic neck issues! Try bring your monitor to eye level and sit as close to the keyboard and mouse as possible.
- Third, your chair… As for the height, be sure your feet can touch the ground. As for the armrests, be sure that they are at a height in which your shoulders are not elevated and your elbows can sit at 90 degrees. Finally, the chair should be pulled up close to your keyboard to eliminate straining and reaching forward.
Stomach sleeping is strongly discouraged! I do not have a specific pillow recommendation, however I would err towards recommending one that will keep your neck in a more neutral position vs forward or back bent.
Give this a try….
- Place a small towel roll inside your pillow case
- Flip the pillow over
- Sleep with the towel roll closest to you. *You can add additional towels for additional support.
Frequent Chin Retractions
Check out this video HERE >> Chin Retractions
Okay everyone, I know, this is not the most flattering movement in the world, but it is very helpful for treatment of neck pain. It is an exercise that helps the neck and upper back understand where it is in space. It is called kinesthetic awareness! Many who suffer from neck pain lack this level of awareness. When this awareness is lost, our neck does not know where it should hold itself. This can cause muscle tension and strain on structures that should not be strained.
Muscle release is a great way to create a short-term decrease in pain. Listed below are the most common areas to release for neck pain. Click on the links to access step-by-step videos on how to perform the self release
Not only do we want to work on the joint mobility of the thoracic spine, but also the ability to actively move through flexion (or forward bending) and extension (back bending). This area has a huge impact on the cervical spine and needs to be happy and mobile. You can perform thoracic extension over a foam roller followed by banded thoracic flexion / extension on your hands and knees to reinforce the passive mobility with the foam roller.
What can the PT do for me?
- Perform a detailed assessment
If you are dealing with neck pain, it is best to be assessed and treated by a trained professional to be sure your pain is being managed appropriately.
- Provide you with an explanation and reduce your fear and anxiety
As discussed previously, fear and stress can increase and prolong your symptoms! Reduce that fear by seeing a professional who can help you take control of your symptoms. Knowledge is power, my friends!
- Manual treatment?
There are many treatments that can be helpful for the treatment of neck pain. A physical therapist has the ability to perform myofascial release, joint mobilizations, and trigger point dry needling to help decrease your pain.
- Exercise prescription
All neck pain is not the same. The above information are common recommendations and treatment strategies that have been successful with many of my clients. However, what works for some, does not work for all. It is important to be provided with a personalized exercise program. This is the most important part of the rehab routine. If you do not develop a habit of a regular routine, there won’t be a desirable change in your symptoms. Does this seem overwhelming? Sometimes the exercises that are prescribed are not the exercises you are imagining. They are activities that you can do while sitting watching TV, driving, or sitting on a call at work!. The time spend outside the clinic is much more valuable than the 1-hour you spend in the clinic with your PT.
If you are having neck pain and would be interested in a complimentary phone consult, please visit the booking link, BOOK NOW!