Updated: Sep 6
Too often clients come to me with chronic neck pain. Overuse of any muscle is likely to cause tightness resulting in pain. The growing amount of time spent in forward flexion with added stress to the cervical spine will result in tired muscles of the deep cervical flexors to the shoulder blade retractors.
Just about all of us spend too much time in flexion resulting in some form of tech neck. Tech neck, or text neck, is defined as neck pain that is caused by repetitive strain and injury to the muscles and tissue structures of the cervical spine. The unnatural posture of hunching forward, holding the neck still for long periods of time may cause headache, repetitive strain, reduced mobility or even result in curvature of the spine. Some may experience shoulder pain or upper back pain with soreness ranging from nagging to sharp. Muscles in the front of the body become shortened while muscles in the back body become overstretched.
There are several self-care practices that can help to relieve neck pain. Evaluating where you spend time and creating an ergonomic workspace can be a great start. You can improve your workspace by elevating your screen so it is at a natural eye level and reclining your seat 20-25 degrees with proper lumbar support will allow proper alignment of the spine.
Finding time for movement to take breaks that include stretch and exercise may also prevent strain to the neck. The doorway stretch is a quick and easy way to open the chest. Place your palms and forearms against a doorway. While looking ahead, lean gently forward, finding length to the spine and sending your breath to the front body, opening the chest and allowing the shortened front body muscles to find length. Incorporating gentle stretches to include the muscles of the chest, upper back and cervical spine can greatly improve tissue mobility, ease tension and reduce pain.
Massage is another powerful resource available to help ease chronic neck pain and may also aid in the physical and emotional healing process. The increased levels of dopamine and serotonin released can help to regulate mood which relieves stress and anxiety caused by pain or as a result of pain. Studies show chronic pain can negatively impact mental health. It is said that up to 85 percent of patients experiencing chronic pain also experience depression or anxiety.
There is no one size fits all for neck pain and it can be debilitating however, working to incorporate movement, stretching or partnering with massage or chiropractic practitioners may help you to find relief. It is important to note that if your pain becomes severe with numbness, tingling and/or weakness in the arms, it may be time to check in with your doctor.
Stephanie McCutchin is a Licensed Massage Therapist and owner of Sakom Massage and Wellness. The word Sakom is inspired by the Menominee language and translates to extending peace to yourself and others. Creating a peaceful space for clients to relax, recharge, and recuperate is the main focus at Sakom. To learn more about massage and to book your appointment today call, 608-564-5330 or click here.