Stretching your neck not working anymore? Try strengthening it!

Post by
Brian Tran

Stretching your neck not working anymore?

With many of us working from home, we are seeing a spike in people coming in with neck and shoulder pain. In fact, neck pain is one of the most common reasons people seek care from our Physiotherapists and Chiropractors. As part of our assessment, we always ask what treatments you have tried before, if it worked for you, any exercises you were given, and whether it is still working for you now.

The classic neck stretch

People are very familiar with the old neck stretch where you tilt your head to the side and sometimes forwards too. This is a widely recommended stretch by many Physiotherapists, Chiropractors, and Osteopaths to help manage neck tightness and pain. For most people, this will work great to relieve any tension in the neck muscles, but sometimes it is just not enough and people find themselves constantly needing to stretch to get temporary relief, before the neck pain and tension comes back again.

young female stretching her neck
Neck stretches can help many people, but for some it is not enough to help their neck pain.

Strengthening the neck

There are many causes of neck pain, with most of them being non-specific and simply related to a sprain or strain of the neck muscles and joints. Strengthening the muscles around the shoulders and neck, and building up their endurance has been shown to be effective in managing those with neck pain. A recent systematic review in 2021 showed that strengthening exercises was an effective choice in managing those with chronic neck pain. We see it as building up their capacity and ability to handle the things we do in our everyday activities that require them to strain, such as prolonged sitting with poor posture, using our arms in outstretched positions with poor arm strength, and even just being stressed and tense all the time.

Strengthening the small muscles in the neck

The deep cervical flexors and deep cervical extensors are a group of small muscles that

neck stand strengthening
Neck stands can be used as a harder exercises to strengthen the muscles around the neck, but only after you slowly build up to it with some easier and medium level ones first.

Strengthening the arms

Building your arm strength is also important to help manage your neck pain. We find many people with neck pain show poor strength in their arms and shoulders, which fatigue easily and place strain on their neck when they are doing their everyday activities. Simple arm exercises such as rowing can be great, especially when you start with lighter weights and slowly increase them as they get easier.

arm exercise strength
Bent over rows with progressively heavier weights can build up your arm strength to help reduce strain on your neck.

If you're ready to try something different for your neck pain, make an appointment with one of our Physiotherapists or Chiropractors at Dural Health today to get you started on an individualised neck strengthening program.

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