We see the vast majority of neck pain cases are as a result of poor neck alignment, usually where there is a straight or forward bending neck rather than too much of a backward bend (this is very uncommon). The way you hold you neck on a daily basis is what will influence your alignment. If you spend a lot of time with your head and shoulders leaning forward, then your posture will follow. The alignment of your neck can have a knock-on effect on your lower back as well. If you spend a lot of time on a smartphone looking down with it in your lap, then this is going to cause a problem with your neck losing its alignment, especially when you consider your screen time.
Commonly, we want to further stretch the neck as it’s stiff by pulling it forwards, but this further leads to instability. It might feel nice but it’s not helpful in the long-term. Make sure you’re equally not propping your head up with numerous pillows when sleeping. When you have an injury that affects a nerve root in your neck, much like sciatica in the lower back, it’s going to cause referred symptoms anywhere down that particular nerve – this could be in the shoulder, arm, fingers and it may switch sides.
Our two exercises that we recommend help to put extension through the middle of the neck, rather than the base of the skull which is where it’s focused when you spend a lot of time looking down. Do not use heat on the area, such as pummelling it with a warm shower, using a hot water bottle or a heated rice pack. Using ice is going to reduce the inflammation. Reducing time spent looking down at your phone will be helpful as is putting your bags onto a table rather than on the floor so you don’t need to bend down to get them. The first exercise we recommend is cervical extensions.
Using a strong exercise band, place at the back of your neck and gently pull forwards while looking back as we show. Combine this with the towel exercise where you lie on a rolled up towel, roughly the thickness of a water bottle for 3-5 minutes at a time. Follow this with ice for around 5 minutes, held in place with a towel rather than your hand. Repeat this a few times during the day, 3-5 times.
The questions we answered today were: The very top of my neck grinds and crunches when I move my neck all the time, I also have stenosis c6-c7 It might actually be lower down that’s crunching but that you might mainly feel it at the top of the neck. despite the pain, numbness spreading down whole arm and constant headaches is it still ok to continue regular towel and ice? Yes, contrast bathing may also be helpful. Facet joint degeneration & disc bulging c4/c5 & c5/6 noted on MRI report… no real discomfort but guess I need to be doing these neck exercises more & improve my head carriage especially when working, to help reduce further degeneration & future problems? Yes, doing the right exercises will help to take the pressure off so it’s good that you do them. It can take time to resolve so it’s important to start while it may not be bothering you as much. You could do the towel at the same time you do your lower back towel. #BackInShape #NeckPain #ArmPainReferral