Causes of Neck and Shoulder Pain
Neck pain is extremely common and can happen at any time in an individual’s life. In fact, over a three-month period, about 15% of adults in the U.S. experience neck pain that lasts at least one full day. Some people feel pain only in their neck, while others feel it only in their shoulders. Your neck and shoulders take the brunt of a lot of pressure, and the way you go about your everyday activities could be making the problem worse. Some of the most common mistakes we make that can increase neck and shoulder pain include:
- Sleeping on the side with legs curled
Sleeping on the side with your legs curled does not provide the spine alignment that your body needs, which can cause pain in the neck, shoulders, and throughout the spine the next day. It also causes pain because your weight is not evenly distributed throughout your body, putting undue amounts of pressure on specific areas.
- Sleeping on the stomach
Sleeping on your stomach tends to be the worst position when it comes to causing neck and shoulder pain. In order to sleep in this position, your head is turned to the side, which puts pressure on your neck. The other problem with this position is that your spine isn’t in alignment, which adds pressure to your joints.
- Hunching over excessively
Hunching over excessively when completing everyday activities like ironing, mopping, washing dishes, doing laundry, vacuuming, and tasks of that nature can lead to excessive strain on the neck and shoulders as well as muscle spasms. Spending lots of time hunched over can also create pain in the lower back because it reduces blood supply to the lower back and creates stiffness and weakness.
- Carrying a shoulder bag
Shoulder bags might look stylish, but they can wreak havoc on your shoulders and neck. This is because they place excessive pressure on the nerves, which trickles down to the shoulders, neck, and lower back. In fact, a study published in the Studies in Health Technology and Informatics showed that shoulder bags and hand-held bags cause stress and strain around the spine, which can result in progressive postural scoliosis, which is a posture adaptation to an imbalance in the base of support.
- Sustaining high stress levels
When you have a high level of stress in your life, the tension might make the muscles that run from the back of the head across the back of the shoulders feel tight and uncomfortable, and the joints start to ache. Adapting healthy coping mechanisms can help you manage this pain. Exercise can be a natural and healthy form of stress relief, and the team at ProFysio can help you find the right exercises for your body.
Physical Therapy Guide to Neck and Shoulder Pain
There are some conditions of neck and shoulder pain that require orthopedic surgery, but many conditions can be improved through physical therapy techniques. At ProFysio, we will walk you through the best exercises for your particular condition, and each person’s treatment plan will look a little different. Some of the exercises we might recommend include:
- Shoulder and head rolls
The purpose of the head roll is to work the trapezius and cervical spine muscles. It can improve the stability of the upper body, stability, flexibility, and range of motion. Head rolls strengthen the back of the neck, alleviate pain, and can even help prevent injury in the future. Before you begin, it is important to get your blood flowing by performing some kind of physical activity first. To begin, lower your chin towards your chest slowly. You should then rotate your head to the right so the ear is over the right shoulder, and stay in this position for five seconds. After that, roll the head down toward the chest and then to the left, and bend your neck so your head is over your left shoulder and hold this position for five seconds. Roll and rotate your head counterclockwise, and continue to reverse the motion.
- Wall push-up
To do a wall push-up stand arm’s distance from a sturdy wall with your feet under your hips. Place your hands on the wall shoulder-distance apart at shoulder height. Then, bend your elbows and bring the chest toward the wall. Your elbows should stay pointing down rather than to the side, and press back to return to the starting position.
- Seated neck stretch
This exercise is particularly convenient because it can be completed while sitting down, so you can do it at your desk at any point during the day. Extend your right arm along your right side and place the left hand on the top of the head. Move your head to the left, apply pressure with your hand to gently increase the effectiveness of the stretch. Hold this for about 30 seconds and repeat on each side.
- Prone rows
A prone row is an exercise that trains most of the muscles of the back. It requires dumbbells and a bench. To complete this exercise, face a weight bench so your body is perpendicular to it. Lie your chest down on a weight bench with your legs behind you. Pick up the dumbbells that are underneath the bench, and bend your elbows to bring your upper arms alongside the trunk. When your upper arms are behind your back, stop and return to your initial position.
- Aquatic exercises
If you have access to a pool, aquatic therapy can be an affective way to treat pain along the back, spine, and neck. One of the best aquatic exercises for neck pain is called a clock exercise. To do this exercise, stand in a right foot forward lunge position, place the hands on the hips, and look to the side. Lift both arms in the front to shoulder height and reach the left hand from front to back while remaining at shoulder height. Through these motions, you can move in repetitions in a way that feels comfortable to you.
We know that it can be a bit difficult to master these physical therapy exercises on your own, and that’s why our team is here to provide the shoulder and neck pain relief you deserve. Call us at (732) 812-5200 or contact us online to learn how we can help you.