How to Reduce or Eliminate Neck Pain Immediately with 6 Simple Moves

Most of our modern population suffers neck pain at one time or another.  And for up to 50% of us, the pain is chronic.  Neck pain may be caused by arthritis or degenerative disc disease, but it is often related to our everyday bad habits.

Like many other parts of the human mechanism, our neck or a cervical spine is a complex structure of bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves.  Our posture, sleeping position, and other habits could be causing stiffness and pain.  When we start with Pilates or any other movement discipline, even doing housework, we neglect our necks.

Not to mention technology, staring down at the computer or phone. Of course, I love tech! And we won’t be here today without it.  Yet, if we are constantly staring at the phone or the computer screen, and we are not in the body, we add another enormous burden to our necks. By the time we hit the mat, our neck is suffering, and we add more burden to it.  However, neck pain that is related to bad habits is avoidable. In the following articles, we’ll look at what can contribute to neck pain, we’ll touch on the neck anatomy, and you get a bonus free super-easy practice to kick-start your journey towards healing your neck.

How is Your Lifestyle can be a Pain in Your Neck?

Poor Sleep

We already know that sleep is the #1 factor in wellbeing. Many experts believe that sleeping on your back is better for your neck. Find a firm high-quality mattress and a good pillow. Lately, I’ve been using the OTPT neck support that you put inside your pillow, and I switch between firm and soft pillows. At times, I use an acupuncture pillow.  However, if you know of a good pillow, please comment below!

Bad Posture

The ideal alignment of the head and neck is one in which the head is well balanced with minimal muscular effort.

Between improper neck posture using computers, phones, driving, and TV, most of us spend our time looking at screens or what we sometimes call forward head with a “tech neck,” which will cause neck pain.  When we are focused on a screen, it’s easy to let your head fall forward for the shoulders to slump, leading to poor posture and neck pain.

To avoid “tech neck,” up your workspace by using a standing desk and a saddle chair, and take plenty of breaks. Also, keep your neck in a neutral position while you’re working. Finally, focus on keeping your computer and screen eye-level, your ears above your shoulders, and your spine straight.

Sitting too Much

How many times have you skipped a workout because of the neck pain? But sitting too much will make your neck pain worse. Inactivity contributes to stiffness. Work with a professional and highly qualified yoga therapy or pilates teacher, and schedule a physical therapy session as soon as you can if you are experiencing neck pain.  Try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week, not just for your neck pain but for your overall well-being.

Neck Anatomy

The Spine (image Of The Spine)
The Spine (image Of The Spine)
Posterior View Of The Muscles Of The Neck And Head
Posterior View Of The Muscles Of The Neck And Head
Anterior View Of The Muscles Of The Neck
Anterior View Of The Muscles Of The Neck

 

As giraffes say, you don’t get any leaves unless you stick your neck out.

~ Sid Waddell ~

The neck is the body part that separates the head from the torso. The Latin-derived term cervical means “of the neck.” The neck supports the head’s weight and is highly flexible, allowing the head to turn and flex in different directions.
The midline in front of the neck has a prominence of the thyroid cartilage termed the laryngeal prominence, or the so-called “Adam’s apple.
The neck is a cervical spine that includes seven cervical vertebrae and an enclosed spinal cord, the jugular veins and carotid arteries, part of the esophagus, the larynx and vocal cords, and the sternocleidomastoid and hyoid muscles in the front and the trapezius and other nuchal muscles behind. Among the primates, humans are characterized by having relatively long necks.

*** pic

No More Neck Pain Video and Break-Down

And for your nerds out here, I include movement and anatomy! I used the Trail Guide to The Body book and app to look up all the muscles, and please do point out if I messed anything up 😉 And, if you are not interested in anatomy at all, just take a second to check out how complex each simple movement is.

Keeping your head up in times of need is an essential surviving skill. When things get tough, there is nothing more important than to find that inner strength that allows you to fight anything.

So, today, we’ll practice strengthening and elongating most of the neck muscles. So when we move into more complex movement, we can make sure that our neck is happy.

So, we’ll practice strengthening and elongating the neck muscles and learn how to engage the neck and keep her happy.

I recommend practicing the eye massage with pelvic rocking first, followed by the pilates intro or level 1 mat class.

How to Reduce or Eliminate Neck Pain Immediately in 6 Simple Moves Right Now

 

Come sit on your mat comfortably where your spine and head align with your pelvis. Take a few breaths, and set the intention for this practice to be simple, to be here.

Exercise #1 – Rotation of the Cervical Spine (Listening)

Imagine hearing someone behind you and rotating your head to hear it to one side and the other. You are only moving your head slightly without rotating your spine. Leading with your eyes slightly, listen to the right and the left.

Synergist muscles create rotation to the right (all unilaterally):

  • Splenius capitis ( on the right/same side)
  • Splenius cervicis ( on the right/same side)
  • Rectus capitis posterior major ( on the right/same side)
  • Oblique capitis inferior ( on the right/same side)
  • Longus colli ( on the right/same side)
  • Longus capitis ( on the right/same side)
  • Longissimus capitis (assists on the right/same side)
  • Longissimus cervicis (assists on the right/same side)
  • IIiocostal is cervicis (assists on the right/same side)
  • Trapezius-upper fibers (on the left/opposite side)
  • Sternocleidomastoid (on the left/opposite side)
  • Longissimus capitis (assists on the right/same side)
  • Longissimus cervicis (assists on the right/same side)
  • IIiocostalis cervicis (assists on the right/same side)
  • Trapezius-upper fibers (on the left/opposite side)
  • Sternocleidomastoid ( on the left/opposite side)
  • All three scalenes (on the left/opposite side)
  • Multifidi ( on the left/opposite side)
  • Rotatores ( on the left/opposite side)

Antagonist muscles: All the muscles above, on the opposite side

Exercise #2 – Lateral Flexion of Cervical Spine with Resistance

Using the palm of your hand, press one side of your head and then side bend your head (laterally flexing ) into the hand.

Synergist muscles creating lateral flexion (unilaterally to the same side)

  • Trapezius (upper fibers)
  • Levator scapula
  • Sternocleidomastoid
  • All three scalenes (with ribs fixed)
  • Splenius capitis
  • Splenius cervicis
  • Longus capitis
  • Longus colli
  • Longissimus capitis (assists)
  • Longissimus cervicis (assists)
  • lliocostalis cervicis (assists)
  • Oblique capitis superior
  • Intertransversarii

Antagonist muscles: All the muscles above, on the opposite side

Exercise #3 – Lateral Flexion of Cervical Spine with Point Pressure (Flex and Glide)

Place your fingers above the top of your ears and massage in a circular motion all the way behind your ear through the bony landmarks of your skull.
We are going to locate the transverse process of your cervical spine and place your fingers on the bony protrusions right behind your ear (the transverse process of the atlas, which is anterior to the ear lobe and posterior to the mandible bone)

Place your place index fingers into the transverse process of your cervical vertebrae.
As you press on one side, the side bends your neck in that direction, imagining the vertebrae slightly gliding to create a room as you press. Then bend your neck the other way and repeat, moving up and down the neck.

The transverse process of a cervical vertebra has a hole in it, the transverse foramen, through which the vertebral artery passes. The transverse process is shaped like a gutter, pointing downwards. It ends in two tubercles, an anterior and a posterior, where the scalene muscles attach.

muscles see #1

Exercise #4 – Flexion of the Cervical Spine with Flexion of the Vertebral Column (Neck Lift)

  • 4.1 Lie supine on your back with your knees bent, take a few breaths, find your core, and we can do a few pelvic rocks here.
  • 4.2 Press your head back to the mat as you inhale and exhale, lengthen your neck.  Remember to breathe through each vertebra of your spine, lengthening your neck.
  • 4.3 Bring your chin to be neutral (not tucking or arching)
    Start to pick up your head and then put it back up. Your head doesn’t leave the mat. It just lifts your weight off your hair and right back down.  You don’t feel your scull leave the mat. Instead, it lifts the weight of your hair, just enough for those hyoid muscles on your tongue—Super deep in that front of the neck.
  • 4.4 moving on  Lift your head off the mat.

Sequencing:

  • Look up at the ceiling as you start to lift your head and feel those front muscles, look at your knees and start to curl your chin as you curl forward, and like in the previous exercise, you start to lift your head and feel those front muscles, next look at your knees and start to curl your chin as you curl forward as you scoop your belly.

Exercise #5 –  Flexion and Rotation of the Cervical Spine (Pop Head)

Lie on your stomach (prone) in a sphinx position, squeeze your shoulder blades together and place your palms flat by your chest,
Your triceps are engaged, belly is lifted away from the mat. And then from here, leave your head up leading, look over your right shoulder, look over your left shoulder, as your head drops down and around, and swing like a pendulum.

Exercise #6 –  Extention with Rotation of the Cervical Spine (Friendly Pam’s Neck Lift)

  • Stay on your stomach.
  • Imagine that you have a trusted friend that comes around and when gently touches your shoulders. The idea is that when I gently roll them back, as you’re keeping your shoulders back, the shoulders relax, and then you’re going to take your chin forward and then your upper back. Turn your head to one side and come back down; again, your trusted friend helped you relax your shoulder blades back, and you roll your head to the center, again leading with your chin, so your upper back does the lift, turn your head to the other side.
    So, you’re consistently landing with your head sideways, and you switched to the other ear each time, and you roll the shoulder blades!

Exercise #7 – we finish with check-in and a trigger point massage.

  • Press Under Mandible, stick your thumb under the mandible, and press gently up towards the tongue’s root and Suprhyoids, digging under the jawline.
  • Go from the chin all the way to the ear. You can use Gua Sha as well.

Don’t beat yourself up because changing habits isn’t easy, but 1) it is quite possible, and 2) you can leave without neck pain! Please share your tips and tricks on how you fixed your neck pain. Where do you go from here? I recommend level 1 mat pilates.  Check out the 3-Day SOFLY reboot.  And reach out for your next life design session!

Pilates Mat Equipment

Disclaimer:

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn minimal fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Anna Sheinman. They are not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, and they are not intended as medical advice. They are intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from my own research and experience. I encourage you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.

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