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Good morning and welcome to Blossoming Me. I’m Sarah Gowans, massage therapist at Blossoming Me.
Today I wanted to continue our chat about neck pain. Talking particularly about ways to prevent it, and what actually causes it in the first place. Things you can do to look after yourself, not only with hope clear your pain but help boost your energy and clarity of mind.
So welcome to BlossomingMe.
Common Causes of Neck Pain
You know, it’s easy to ignore your neck, to take it for granted when you don’t have pain. But goodness me don’t we know about it when it gets tight, we can’t move it or it gets painful.
If you’ve had it you know what I mean. So, the three main causes of neck pain are things like: repetitive motions, posture, and our mental and emotional health (stress basically).
So, according to the Mount Sinai organisation, the most common cause rather of neck pain is repetitive motions that cause strain. So you are overusing those muscles in your neck, which is causing problems, so the muscle gets tight. Now when that muscle gets tight, it can start recruiting other muscles, and we’ll come to that in just a moment. But things like if you’re swimming, freestyle for example, and constantly turning your head in one direction, that can overwork your neck. If you’re doing dance moves, and continually moving your head in some interesting position. Any strain in this position will then be exacerbated, simply by practising that dance. Doing that over and over again, your body is going to get stressed by that, which can cause, and lead to neck pain and tightness.
In our society commonly what we do is work with what’s in front of us. Whether it’s a computer, on an operating table, working with your hands in some fashion, it’s always in front of us.
Why? Because that’s where our eyes are. You know not only do we work with what is in front of us, because that’s where our eyes are our whole body is geared to be a Steadicam for our eyes. So it (our body) is busy focusing, steadying us, and our neck is crucial in that. So it’s all about keeping our eyes level. Steady so that we don’t get dizzy so that we know where the horizon is. So that we aren’t put off when we’re running from a predator, back in you know, a long time ago.
Repetitive movements may create neck pain
But all these aspects can stress your neck and body, because you use it constantly to keep your eyes level. Not only are you using your neck, but you are constantly adjusting those muscles, ligaments and tendons. Continually adjusting those vertebrae through your neck and your whole spine, to keep your eyes level and steady. So when they go out of whack, in some continuously [used] position, because you’re swimming or doing some funky dance move, and straining it, that can have a taxing effect on the body, an overload.
When doing these motions and movements in a repetitive fashion, that can actually become an unconscious pattern… Once they’re an unconscious pattern, that actually becomes your posturem, and if we aren’t focused on creating a great posture, how you’re standing, how you’re sitting, being aware of factors that create a good posture, then you can end up with a bad posture.
So things like sitting for a long period of time, whether that’s relaxing on the couch, watching TV in a not-so-helpful position, or whether that’s stressing because you’ve got a lot of work on, and you’re leaning forward, into the computer and watching, with a whole lot of pressure, because the world is sitting on your shoulders, and that’s tugging at those muscles and ligaments in your neck. Whether that’s sleeping in an awkward or uncomfortable position. All these things can be leading to a not-so-helpful posture, a poor posture, and that can create neck pain.
You can wake up in the morning, “Oh my goodness how did this happen? I’ve got a “Rye Neck”, a neck that feels [seriously] painful. It can lead to headaches, and all sorts of other challenges as well. But why? Because you’ve had a bad night’s sleep! Sometimes that can just be on one night, sometimes it’s because it’s happened repetitively, on multiple nights, but the position that you are in for any length of time can affect your neck. What a surprise!
Is your stress levels impacting your neck?
Finally, mental and emotional health, things like stress, because you’re involved in what you’re doing, feeling the pressure, and that can stress you out. When you’re stressed, your shoulders tighten up, your whole spine can tighten up, and that can put your hips out, your shoulders out, and that of course has a run-on effect into your neck.
Sometimes it actually starts by sitting badly in that chair at work, with high pressure, and all those emotional things. You’ve got your hips out, (in your body’s continual process of adjusting your whole back again), to keep your eyes level. And what happens is that your neck is the last thing that has to adjust in order to compensate for all that is going on in the rest of your spine. It’s trying to do that last adjustment, to keep your eyes level, and that’s where you feel the pain in that final point. The stress, the anxiety, the lack of social support, all come into your body. Your body can’t help but respond to that mental and emotional situation of where you have got yourselves into.
Preventative neck pain strategies
So how can you prevent all these things? Simply by having good posture, taking breaks, and staying active. If you have a lot of activity in your life, you [likely] know how beneficial that can be, in keeping you fit, active, energised, and keeping your muscles loose, limber, and functioning well.
Maintain good posture
Having a great posture is a good place to start. So making sure that when you are sitting at your desk, it is at the right height. The keyboard is at a comfortable height for you to be typing at, the monitor is at a good height for your eyes, so that you’re not tilting up or tilting down, or sideways. Some people have meetings, I heard this from a friend the other day. She had a meeting, and the person was talking with her, and she was typing over here, [directly in front of her body] and looking over there, [turning her head fully to the right] wondering why she had a sore neck. So these things that we don’t even think about, become an unconscious pattern and affect our posture.
Making sure that your chair is at a good height, as well, so that your feet are comfortably flat on the floor, supporting the rest of you Your knees lower than your hips, so that that, encourages your spine to be naturally straight.
Take regular breaks
As well as a good posture, make sure you take breaks. Go and get yourself a glass of water, go and get yourself a coffee. Go for a walk around the room. If you’re on the phone maybe you can have a conversation with somebody while you are walking around the office or the house or wherever it is that you happen to be working from. But movement and taking breaks away from that seated position can be really powerful. The stand-sit desks are awesome, but only if you use both functions. Standing and sitting, so that your body is constantly moving, adjusting, and not getting into a bad posture and staying there for hours on end, because you’re engrossed in what you’re doing. Or even worse feeling pressure about what you’re doing
Staying active as I said, is really, really important. Doing those things on a regular basis, so that you can keep your body moving well, in different directions. And knowing just how important that is to keep your mind active, because when you’re moving and your body is active, your mind is also [more] active. When you’re moving and your body is active, the muscles are flowing, and when the muscles, and the blood, the circulation is flowing, well that helps the whole system to just feel much freer, and support you to clear that whole neck pain, even though you’re not necessarily just moving your neck.
And finally as a bonus point on how to prevent neck pain, make sure you do things to support yourself emotionally. Make sure that you get support from your friends. Make sure that you are taking time out for yourself. You might be an active parent, who’s busy looking out for your kids all the time, make sure that you take time to look after number one. Put that oxygen mask on you, first. Remember that doing the exercise classes and that sort of thing, can be a fabulous way to nurture and look after you. Doing meditations, visualisations, hypnosis, or anything like that can be another way of looking after you.
I’ve seen some fabulous photographs on Facebook recently, of a beautiful group photo, with a dear friend who’s in a wheelchair with friends gathered around. A fantastic shot, of just the emotional support that these friends are giving each other, as well as their dear friend who’s been in a wheelchair for many years. It’s a stunning photograph and a great example of how much we need that emotional support. And all of this has an effect on our body. It takes the pressure off. It reduces our stress, and it supports our neck, helping to ease that pain.
So thank you for joining me here this morning at Blossoming Me, to find ways to help support your body continue on that journey to nurture yourself. To clear that neck pain, and prevent it from coming back.
I look forward to seeing you at our next one.
Have an awesome day!
Neck pain can be excruciating, but there are things that you can do to help prevent it. I hope you have found these tips useful to support your whole body, and assist you in avoiding neck pain.
If you have neck pain that you want to be cleared out of your life… Book today and we can do a full assessment, and treatment plan, and help you back to enjoying your life to the full.
Hungry for more?
You might also find it interesting to learn a bit more about how your neck pain can impact your mood. If so, check out this blog “Your Teacher was Right”.
Author: Sarah Gowans
About Blossoming Me
BlossomingMe offers a fully integrated approach to your wellbeing. Located on Sydney’s Upper North Shore. Sarah is our Cranio-sacral and Remedial Massage Therapist and health and lifestyle coach. She can help relieve those problematic knots, tightness and other specific ailments to promote a healthy recovery. These complementary massage therapies can be combined to suit your needs, and include: craniosacral therapy, shiatsu, acupressure, reiki, remedial, swedish, and body-mind-massage.
Our qualified Osteopath, Alexis, offers a drug free, minimally invasive, “hands on” treatment focusing on the musculoskeletal system with its associated muscles, tendons, ligaments, membranes, bones and joints. Alexis takes a functional approach. This means that she focuses on the way a component (body part, tissue or group of tissues) performs its role, as well as the way the body works, performs and integrates as a whole. Our team can support you to improve your posture and therefore your overall health.
**Disclaimer** The information provided by BlossomingMe, on our website, in our courses, and in our blogs and posts, is for educational and informational purposes only. The information provided on this site and social outlets is not, nor intended to be, a substitute for profess
ional advice or care. Please seek the advice of a qualified health professional before you make any changes to your health regime, before dealing with new symptoms, and, if something you have read here has raised any questions or concerns regarding your situation.