If you or someone you live with has problems with neck or shoulder pain or stiffness, you know how much that can interfere with your day-to-day life. It may make it difficult to get restful sleep, work at a desk or computer, to do any kind of overhead activities from painting to playing tennis, cause difficulty with lifting up a grandchild or carrying a bag of groceries. Sometimes, what starts with stiffness or soreness in the neck and shoulder area even progresses to a headache. Whether you are dealing with an occasional flare-up or constant chronic pain or stiffness, there is usually something you can do to help yourself feel better and get back to an active lifestyle.
In my experience over the past 15 years, I have found some basic interventions that frequently have resolved neck or shoulder issues. In the report below, I have listed 7 helpful tips for you to try to relieve your symptoms and lead a happier and more comfortable and active life
If you work at a desk job or otherwise spend much of your day sitting, take frequent short breaks. Our bodies are designed for movement. In sitting there is about 10 times as much pressure on your spine as in standing tall. Getting up for micro-breaks of one or two minutes to take a few steps every 20 to 30 minutes can really help take the stress off your spine and make your neck feel much better. If you have to spend much of your day on the phone try to stand up while talking on the phone. Even while sitting try to change your position frequently. If you need a reminder to get up there are free phone apps available that can do that job for you.
Most of us carry our stress and tension in our neck, unconsciously pulling up our shoulders and tightening the muscles around the neck. This can cause pain and stiffness in our neck and shoulders and even lead to headaches over time. Doing a few simple exercises can relieve neck and shoulder strain and tightness. Some examples include: rolling your shoulders up back and down a few times, squeezing the shoulder blades back and down, gently stretching the neck by tilting your head bringing one ear closer to the shoulder, or turning your head looking over one shoulder. These exercises should not cause any pain.
Wearing high heels increases the pressure through your back and spine by as much as 25 times. It causes changes in the alignment of your neck and shoulders, hips and knees, changing the way you stand and walk. The effect is cumulative over time, so usually by the 40s can lead to neck and shoulder pain or stiffness and low back issues.
If you carry a bag on one shoulder every day it adds a lot of pressure on that side and causes your spine to curve sideways. Not only will your head and shoulder to be in an altered position, but also your natural gait will be thrown off. Over time, this can damage muscles and joints, and muscles on one side will shorten in response leading to stiffness and pain. There are plenty of things you can do to prevent this. Using a backpack with two wide straps to distribute weight is the best solution. If that is not an option, try to at least lighten your bag as much as possible and alternate sides you carry the bag on.
Sleeping on your stomach causes severe stress on every part of your spine. It forces your neck to be rotated to one side and the low back to arch leading to additional strain and over time and can cause neck, shoulder, and back pain.
Sleeping with a pillow that is wrong for you can interfere with your sleep quality and have you waking up with a stiff or painful neck. The pillow you select should keep your neck in a neutral position. If you sleep on your side the pillow should be just the right thickness to fill out space between your head and mattress without tilting your neck sideways up or down. Therefore, the pillow thickness you need depends on how wide your shoulders are. If you sleep on your back, your pillow should also keep your neck in a neutral position, which means your chin should be neither tipped up or down.
If you have tried the tips outlined above and still have neck or shoulder pain that keeps you from doing the things you enjoy, seek help from a hands-on physical therapist before the pain gets out of hand. A therapist can assess you, treat the underlying cause of your symptoms, and often very quickly relieve your pain. The therapist may also teach you techniques and exercises to help you eliminate your symptoms and get you back to a full and active lifestyle.
For more information or to schedule a visit with a therapist, contact Birgit Reher PT at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 919-402-0888.
Health Advice Disclaimer
We make every effort to ensure that we accurately represent the injury advice and prognosis displayed through this Guide.
However, examples of injuries and their prognosis are based on typical representations of those injuries that we commonly see in our physical therapy clinic. The information given is not intended as representations of every individual’s injury. As with any injury, each person’s symptoms can vary widely and each person’s recovery from injury can also vary depending on background, genetics, previous medical history, application of exercises, posture, motivation to follow PT advice, and various other physical factors.
It is impossible to give a 100% complete accurate diagnosis and prognosis without a complete physical examination, and likewise, the advice given for management of an injury cannot be deemed fully accurate in the absence of this examination from a licensed physical therapist at Synergy Fitness for Her.
We are able to offer you this service at a standard charge. Significant injury risk is possible if you do not follow due diligence and seek suitable professional advice about your injury. No guarantees of specific results are expressly made or implied in this report.