Frequently suffer from a tight and tense neck?
You are not alone! In this day and age with a growing sedentary population and workforce, it’s not uncommon to experience some tension and pain in your neck/shoulders.
Fortunately, there’s a lot of little things we can implement to help prevent this becoming an ongoing issue.
Evidence suggests that a multimodal approach is the most effective at treating neck pain and tension. These should include a combination of hands-on treatment, postural and ergonomic strategies, strength and mobility exercises & psychological considerations.
Wowee, now that’s a lot to consider… but how to address and implement these?!
Let us make it simple and easy for you to integrate into your life!
Here’s what we at PhysioWest ~ as health professionals, but also ordinary everyday people who understand the regular struggles of life, suggest:
- Remedial Massage – Regular remedial massage therapy every 4-6 weeks can help relieve a build-up of muscle tension and promote relaxation (both physically and mentally). Our in-house remedial massage therapists will get to know you and work alongside you to address your needs and compromised areas. Personally, this is something I started doing last year and immediately saw the value in it. I never realised the controlling power muscle tightness and tension had on me over time. I always sleep like a baby the night following the massage and the next day, whilst a little sore, it’s like a weightless sensation over me. I now have my monthly massage booked in for the same date and time ongoing.
- Heat – Whether that be a heat bag, hot shower, warm bath, whatever works for you. Heat therapy dilates blood vessels, promotes blood flow and improves circulation. Improving circulation can help eliminate the lactic acid build-up that may occur after exercise and helps sore/tight muscles to relax. My own personal go to strategy at the end of a big working day, is to sit and watch TV with my Wili heat neck wrap on. If you haven’t already got one, do yourself a favour and pop into the clinic to grab yourself one! These are such a lifesaver and has drastically improved the frequency of my neck pain and associated headaches.
- Regular movement and stretching – This is so important and something that can be often put on the back burner. Trust me, I know all too well as when you’re on a roll with your work.. You’re on a roll! Fortunately, for myself, I recently purchased a smart watch which regularly reminds me to “get up and move” or “time to be active”. However, my favourite tip of the trade that a patient told me was to set yourself a 30 min timer on your phone and place your phone across the other side of your room or office. Then, when the timer goes off it forces you to get up and move, or you risk putting up with a loud annoying sound… I know what I’d prefer, MOVEMENT! Implementing regular movement and stretching is the best thing you can do as its sustained postures that cause our muscles to tighten up. I always say “Your next posture is your best posture!” There’s no “ideal” posture as if I was to sit in the same perfect posture all day, I’d be just as sore from my muscles working overtime to try hold me up in that position all day! In summary, anything that changes your position regularly ~ be that: stretching, movement, changing posture, will keep your muscles moving and help prevent your muscles from tightening up.
- Exercise + strength – A combination of mobility and strength exercises are optimal. We want to get your muscles moving and maintain full range of motion, but also strengthen our muscles to increase their capacity and prevent them from getting fatigued and tight in the first place. Strengthening the muscles will also help support our spine and improve your performance during daily activities. Pilates is a great option that targets postural awareness, mobility, control & strength. If this isn’t for you, no worries there are plenty of other options and it’s about choosing the right option for you so that you adhere to it and more importantly.. enjoy! If you’re more of a ‘homebody’ we can get you set up with a couple resistance bands or light dumbbells and create a home program that you can complete for 20-30 mins x3-4/week. The options are endless, don’t feel boxed in by your choices or feel like strength means you have to go to the gym and pump iron!
- Stress management – Tight and tense muscles are never helped with the addition of stress, whether that be work related or your mother-in-law driving you up the wall. Stress can also cause a world of other problems/conditions such as headaches, health conditions, poor digestion, and poor mental health. Yes, it’s important to look after your physical health but mental health is just as important and plays just as large a role. Now there’s no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to this and stress management may look different for everyone. Some people have it figured out to a T, others are still trying to find what works for them (myself included). However, the aim is to implement anything that helps YOU relax and switch off. Some ideas include: yoga, meditation, mindfulness, massage, exercise/running, hot bath and glass of wine or just simply.. sitting and doing absolutely nothing!
Now I could go on and on about all the extra bits such as hydration, nutrition, ergonomics that can contribute to neck pain and tensions but for the purpose of this blog post, let’s keep it short, sweet and simple with the 5 tips above. Have a go at implementing some of these into your weekly routines, or if change is a bit scary and overwhelming, how about just starting with 1.
If you would like some further information or guidance to help with your recurring neck pain & tension, as always our team at PhysioWest are here to help you! It’s why we do what we do ‘To educate & empower our community to live a healthy and happy life!’
Click the link below to book a consult with one of our practitioners and let’s help you be the best version of yourself!