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neck discomfort

By: Kiara Holmes, ATC

Knock Knock

Who’s There?

Cervical

Cervical who?

Serve a cool ice pack please, my neck is killing me!

Neck pain and tightness is something that we all may experience from time to time for different reasons. However, chronic pain or tightness often has a deeper issue than just sleeping wrong one night.  Poor posture and muscular weakness is often the culprit for neck issues. We spend so much time with our heads down and shoulders rounded while using our phones, shoulders hunched while driving or doing daily activities, and the like, that we don’t even notice we’re training our body to give us issues. Consistently poor posture causes your shoulder/neck muscles to become tight where they are shortened or overused, and weak where they are normally lengthened or underused.

These imbalances may translate to your daily life in some the following ways:

  • Neck pain while looking in the mirrors while trying to reverse your car
  • Pinching while reaching into a cabinet
  • Burning when laying down on your side in bed
  • A feeling of strain when looking down to change a diaper

Aside from wreaking havoc in the neck itself, these neck muscles tend to cause headaches if they’re tight as well. Attaching to the base of the skull, certain muscles may be bound up with tight tissue, affecting the mobility of the muscles and cause restrictions when you’re moving your head in different directions. Strain on the skull this way causes headaches.

Tight and weak muscles in the neck can affect the upper extremities as well. The nerves that innervate the upper extremities can sometimes be compressed by tight muscles, causing different sensations like tingling, numbness, and burning to run down the arm and into the fingers. This of course should not be the norm, which is why we use physical therapy to target each of these issues.  We focus on proper posture in the clinic and in daily life, which is assisted by strengthening muscles in the back, neck, and shoulders that most people neglect on a daily basis. You may be naturally shrugging your shoulders or slumped over while reading this article right now, which means that there is work to be done. Manual therapy that is provided by the therapists—working their hands into the bound and tight tissue—and strengthening the right muscles will cause the already overused ones to relax over time, making your quality of life a better one.

CLICK HERE for more on how physical therapy can help you.

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