A stiff neck can be a turning point in your life, ironically. Yes, usually a stiff neck does seem to go away within a painful few days but also tends to keep coming back to haunt you. Often such neck pain and damage to the soft tissues in the neck can be the result of a deeper underlying cause leading to either chronic or acute neck pain. With the pandemic bringing the world to a standstill and offices to your homes, the complaints about neck pain and stiffness have only gone up. Working from the bed, hunching over your laptops, and bending forward to peep into your smartphones does tense up your neck muscles, especially if you’re not doing something to actively stretch, strengthen or mobilize it.
In most cases of a stiff or a ‘wry’ Neck, the person wakes up with the painful sensation in the neck, causing him to get ‘stuck’ in some movements. The head will be held to one side and the neck is too painful to move. Attempting to move the neck will usually make the neck pain worse. In some cases, the pain will radiate up the neck or down to the shoulder area. There may be painful spasms in the neck muscles.
To strengthen, mobilize and stretch your neck so that you don’t end up getting stuck, we’ve curated a list of exercises that follow the principles of physiotherapy to prevent neck pain from becoming a common occurrence.
1. The Perfect Pillow:
Try a new pillow!
In terms of comfort and support, you’ll need a fair amount of trial and error to find something that offers you the right amount of support and comfort. As a general rule, it is best to use a pillow that keeps your cervical spine in neutral alignment—meaning, the natural curve of your neck is supported and maintained.
The sleep preferences/ cause of your pain etc. determine the pillow you need to get, so choose wisely and consult your physio before making a purchase.
If you’re like most people, you change your sleep position during the night, so be sure to have a pillow(or pillows) that works for each of these positions.
- SLEEP ON YOUR BACK
As a must-do, make sure you sleep straight on your back. It’s the best position to let your entire spine rest comfortably. Some people with neck problems find it better when they sleep on their back and place a pillow under each arm.
Supporting each arm takes the strain off the neck, giving it a good night’s rest.
Some people with spinal arthritis or stenosis may find that sleeping at a slight incline is easier, so they add a foam wedge pillow to their bed and/or switch to an adjustable bed.
- SHOULDER AND HEAD ROLLS
These stretches are a great warm-up to start with before attempting other exercises. HOW TO:
Keep your arms relaxed at your sides, and with your head upright, simply lift and roll your shoulders. Relax briefly between each roll. Do ten rolls forward, and then back.
- THE SEATED N- STRETCH
Deceptively simple, the seated neck stretching exercise can even be performed at your desk. For a seated stretch, sit upright in your chair with your feet flat on the ground. Extend your right arm along your right side and place your left hand on the top of your head. Tilt your head to the left, applying pressure with your hand to gently intensify the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat for the right side. You will feel this stretch in the levator scapula muscles in the sides of the neck.
- LEVATOR SCAPULAR STRETCH
Sit up tall with good posture keeping shoulders down. Grasp the bottom of the seat with one hand. Slightly turn your chin toward your armpit until a comfortable stretch is felt on the opposite side of the neck. Hold that position for 20 seconds. Repeat to each side 3 times.
Head over to Phyt Health. Phyt Health is India’s first digital physiotherapy platform using 3D Imaging and Artificial Intelligence to accurately capture your movements and recommend relevant treatment plans. On the physiotherapy app, you will find a wealth of exercises that are curated by expert physiotherapists that you can perform in the comfort of your own home.
Book your video consultation today!