STIFF NECK EXERCISES FOR NECK PAIN is a simple routine to do on a daily basis whether you have head neck pain or arm pain or not. Since 70% of the general population will have neck pain in any one year, and for 12% it will be disabling, a bit of prevention makes sense.
We recommend you take these exercises one at a time, do it for a few days, and when you're happy, go on to the next one.
There is no exercise program that fits with everyone. Listen to your body, take it slowly. If it doesn't feel good, leave it out, and move on to the next one. If you're not sure if you are doing it right, get someone to watch you do them.
Obviously first prize is to get a professional check that you are doing them correctly.
1. Neanderthal Man
Fix the eyes on a point on the wall directly in front of the eyes, and move the head forwards and backwards (retraction), slowly and rhythmically, careful to keep the chin on the same plane. Avoid flexion / extension - looking up and down.
A slight chin tuck on retraction is important.
Not to be done in public! Do this exercise in the car, and in the loo.
In general it's good practice to stretch tired and sore muscles. However, my experience, with the neck muscles, stretching them often increases the pain.
If there's any concomitant injury to the disc or facet joint complex, stretching the neck muscles may subluxate the weak joints.
So I have no neck muscle stretches on this page. There is a place for them, but I'd rather you were taught them by your health professional, who must also decide: do you have a purely muscle condition in the neck, or is there is also an underlying joint condition. In which case, in my book, stretches are contraindicated. Others have a different opinion.
2. Neck Muscle Exercises
Cat and Camel
The Cat and Camel exercises for a stiff neck are more difficult, and probably should not be taught on a website. If you're not getting it, get help. It's an old yoga exercise.
In essence, it's the Neanderthal Man, with the head RETRACTRED against gravity. Once again, don't extend the head. Keep looking straight between your hands.
One of the reasons is that it requires two movement simulaneously:
Begin them separately and, when you can do each part confidently, then try combining them.
First, the Cat portion of the exercise.
The Cat stands proud during these stiff neck exercises for neck pain. Head up, neck retracted and back arched.
Do not arch the head and neck.
This is a surprisingly vigorous exercise if you're suffering from neck pain. Take is slowly, not going to the extremes initially.
The Camel neck muscle exercise, done properly, is just as tricky. She's thirsty, and wanting to drink.
And now of course these two stiff neck exercises for neck pain (the Cat and the Camel) should be done simulaneously. First, just the head bobbing up and down, then the back arched and humped, and finally (if you can, some people can never coordinate it) head and back together.
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Interesting challenges of the day
1. Mr B has the trophy for the most acute neck in February. He has quite advanced lower neck arthritis for a forty year old, thanks to a severe fall on the head from a trampoline. But this is upper cervical pain. Right rotation is simply impossible. Luckily he is improving rapidly, eighty percent better he says after three treatments. See cervical facet syndrome.
2. Mrs C is a new patient with a long history of lower back pain, hip pain and pain in both feet. We'll see how we get on, Rome wasn't built in a day.
3. Miss U sprained her ankle two months ago, wearing high heels. She still has severe mid foot pain. Xrays and perhaps a CT scan.
4. Mr V is 86 years old and hurt his back helping his wife into the car. Just one treatment of the sacroiliac joint and he's eighty percent better. It's not always like that.
5. Mr W lay on his back knocking down a pillar. Turning his head causes severe vertigo. He needs the Epley exercises, not pills, research shows. Update, he's fine.
6. Mrs X, a young mother has severe lower back pain, with numbness down the posterior thigh, calf and side of foot. It started after a long drive in the car. Update, she's forty percent less painful after four treatments, but the leg is still numb. Update two; she 60% better, but it's slow and is going to take the full 6 weeks to heal. Further update; a setback, after lifting her child she now has leg pain. It's going to the be difficult.
7. Mrs Y, a 70 year old woman is on maintenance care fo a nasty lumbar stenosis despite having to do everything at home. Her husband has a hospital acquired infection in the shoulder. After 4 operations he is incapacitated and going rapidly down hill.
8. Mrs Z, an 78 year old woman is doing remarkably well with a bad sciatica. But at over 200 lbs she is not losing weight, in fact gaining despite my suggestions. She's high risk for a stroke. Referral to a dietician to crack the whip.
9. Mr A, a 73 year old engineer, still working, is doing fine after a long episode of lower back pain. Some pain on the side of the hip remains after five treatments. Reassured him it's not hip arthritis.
10. Mrs B, a 64 year old woman has had Scheuermanns disease; it's left with a spinal kyphosis and chronic middorsal pain. She responds well to chiropractic treatment, provides she come every six weeks or so for treatment.
11. Mr C, a young engineer fell off his mountain bike injuring his cervical spine and pelvis. Luckily both responded very quickly to a few chiropractic adjustments. Update: his neck is sore again. It all goes back to a whiplash injury ten years ago when he was rammed by a fully laden truck carrying a load of stone. Time for Xrays.
12. Mrs D, a middle aged woman with hip pain of one year duration, despite other treatment. Xrays reveal an impingement syndrome and early hip arthritis. There's much to be done.
13. Both Mrs E and I can't believe how much better her lower back and leg pain are. Surgery for a scoliosis and spondylolysthesis three years ago helped greatly for one year. But then her leg went lame and weak. He was responded extremely well despite all expectations.
And so the day goes. Chiropractors shouldn't be treating the elderly? Bunkum.
Have a problem that's not getting better? Looking for a different slant on your pain? Want to pose a question?
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