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Posture Exercises to Prevent Neck Pain

Posture Exercises to Prevent Neck Pain

Adults in the United States often deal with neck pain. Whether it’s because of bad posture habits, spinal stress from work or commuting, or a lack of stretching, you may be putting a lot of pressure on this delicate and pain-prone part of your body.

Interventional pain management specialist Dr. Nichelle Renk and Dr. Mary Beth Calor provide care and treatment for chronic neck pain from their practice at Alpenglow Pain & Wellness of Anchorage, Alaska.

You should know that preventing neck pain is possible with simple, regularly repeated stretches and posture exercises. You don’t have to suffer from neck pain. 

Here are a few posture exercises that you can start using today to relieve your pain symptoms and reduce the frequency and severity of your neck pain.

Neck stretch for spinal decompression

Your spine contains many joints that connect small vertebral bones. Any of these joints can become damaged or compressed, leaving you with pain and function problems. 

The upper, or cervical, spine that runs through your neck contains seven vertebrae, with joints and cushioning spinal discs positioned between the bones.

Compression in your cervical spine can occur due to the weight of your head, especially if you spend time in positions with your neck angled downward or otherwise not aligned with the rest of your spine. 

Over time, degeneration can follow, with cervical spinal joints starting to break down under pressure. You could suffer from chronic neck pain, shoulder pain, or frequent headaches as a result.

You can relieve cervical spine compression with a neck stretch. Performing thisstretch regularly throughout your day works to realign your cervical spine, creating space where there was harmful compression, and reducing your risk of neck pain. It also improves your posture over the long term.

You can do this stretch while standing up or sitting down. Start with your fingers or knuckles touching the front of your chin. Then, using a level motion, push backward on your chin. 

If you look in a mirror, you may notice a visible “double chin” appear when you’ve pushed back far enough. Hold the gentle stretch for a few seconds, and repeat 3-5 times.

Nodding stretch for shoulder straightening and neck muscle relaxation

Your neck muscles have a close relationship with the muscles in your shoulders. If your shoulder posture is poor, your neck muscles might have to work harder to compensate, leading to muscle tightness and neck pain.

You can work on your shoulder straightness and stretch your neck muscles with a simple “nodding” stretch. 

Start either standing or seated, with shoulders relaxed, looking straight ahead. Keeping your shoulders straight, lower your chin slowly toward your chest. When you feel a gentle stretch, stop and hold for up to 30 seconds before slowly raising your head again.

Repeat this stretch 3-5 times daily, and watch your shoulder posture and neck muscle tension improve.

Twisting and tilting exercises for smooth neck motion

Your neck needs to be able to move freely in multiple directions, including tilting from side to side and rotating to the left and to the right. All of these motions create lots of opportunities for muscle tightness, dysfunction, and neck pain.

Cervical spine dysfunction puts you at risk of conditions like pinched spinal nerves (radiculopathy), herniated spinal discs, and muscle strains in your neck, back, and shoulders. To expand and maintain your neck’s full range of motion, use these twisting and tilting exercises. Here’s what you need to do.

Stretch the muscles at either side of your neck with side-to-side tilts. Starting sitting or standing, looking straight ahead. Then, lean your head to one side, so that your ear draws nearer to your shoulder. 

Hold for as long as 30 seconds, then gently return your head to an upright position. Repeat on the other side. Stretch both sides 3-5 times each day.

To address neck stiffness and regain full range of motion to each side, use side-to-side rotation stretches. 

Whether sitting or standing, look forward and begin by gently turning your head to one side. Holding your shoulders still, turn your head to the opposite side. Ideally, you should turn 45 degrees on both sides. Repeat 10 sets of turns twice a day.

For customized posture improvement and neck pain relief advice, consult Dr. Renk and Dr. Calor. Contact Alpenglow Pain & Wellness online or over the phone to schedule your appointment today.

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