You’re not alone, neck pain is one of the leading causes for disability, globally!
Have you been stretching for months with only temporary effects? Maybe strengthening rather than stretching is the answer…
Here’s some current research:
Read it? Thought not…
In a nutshell eccentric exercise (slow downward phase/ release of weight)of the upper traps has been shown to be effective in female office workers. There is also moderate evidence that strengthening is better than cardio for neck pain.
Now which type of strengthening exercise should I do? This is where things get a little hazy. Although there is evidence that strengthening is good, there haven’t been many robust studies showing that one strengthening exercise is better than the other, so this is very much an individual thing. It could be yoga, Pilates, resistance training (e.g. pulling bands and lifting weights) or even gardening but dose is key. It’s important to perform strengthening exercises at least 3 times a week to show improvements, and to do enough to push the muscle to change (overload). This threshold is a very individual thing- what is overloading for one person may not be so for another (hence the gardening!).
Here’s where physio comes in, guiding people to create a lifestyle/ exercise program which is going to counteract those hours at the desk, or restore function after injury, when resolving pain and disability seems unlikely.
Here’s one example to get you going: (see video,)- an upright row with a shoulder shrug and a slow “eccentric phase” with a backpack… but you could use anything! .The weight should be heavy enough that you feel fatigue between 8-12 reps.
Disclaimer: if your pain is getting worse, you have had any numbness/ pins and needles, fainting episodes, headaches, problems with vision, speech or swallow function or you are unsure if this is right for you, please consult your physio or GP before starting these exercises.