Relieving Neck Pain

Neck pain is one of the most common pain complaints for which people seek help. There are straight forward ways that neck pain can successfully be addressed.

For people whose neck pain is not the result of a specific traumatic injury, I break it down into 2 categories. One is the result of sustained postures. The other is the result of stress-induced excessive muscle tension.

Sustained Postures

We have muscles that are designed for sustained holding and muscles that are designed for movement. When we use movement muscles to maintain positions they fatigue. The muscle runs out of enough oxygen and there is a build up of waste products in the muscle. Pain is the result.

An example is looking down at your phone for extended periods (think of folks waiting in the airport) or prolonged computer work where the monitor has you oriented looking to your left or right.

While the solutions to addressing pain from sustained postures are simple, they do take an awareness to make the correction. For those extended periods of phone usage, place the phone on a support directly in front of you where you can rest your hand to operate the phone. It can be a counter top, furniture, a stack of books or even pillows. If your monitor is not positioned in front of you, correct that. Some monitor stands are more adjustable than others. They are easy to find on-line. Additional worksite setup tips can be found in poster-form at the bottom of this article.

Stress Induced Muscle Tension:

When we feel stressed, our brain goes into protection mode. It activates muscles preparing to spring into action. If we take no action though, we hold on to all this tension. This can be the sole problem itself or it can add to the strain of sustained postures to result in a painful neck.

1. Getting regular, full body exercise is a fundamental way to interrupt muscle tensioning. Walking can be the magic exercise for many of us. Simply getting out at lunch or the end of your day, even for just 10-15 minutes can make a difference. While this alone may not be enough for one’s daily exercise diet, it can be a great supplement that interrupts the escalating muscle tension that builds through the course of a day. Consider giving your team an exercise challenge or incentive to keep them happier and healthier!

2. Performing simple stretches during your day is another simple, yet very effective way to interrupt muscle tension and prevent neck pain (See the exercises our “Keep the Flow” article to get started). Just remember, these techniques work best when done with some frequency before you feel your neck getting symptomatic.

Learn more about our Workplace Wellness programs here and review additional resources and workplace wellness articles below. If you have any questions or are interested in engaging our services to perform worksite assessments, preventative screening, etc., please do not hesitate to contact us!

Keep the Flow: Preventing Workplace Pain

Desk Ergonomics 101

Stress: Our Biggest Challenge at Work and Home

Workplace Wellness