The cervical spine allows for movement of the head up and down as well as left and right. The cervical spine can be susceptible to injury in part due its relatively large range of motion which can lead to a kink in your neck.
Neck pain and headaches or shoulder muscle pain can often be due to poor posture and weak surrounding musculature.
Neck pain/sprain/stiffness can often be aggravated if your job or lifestyle requires you to sit at a desk all day. Here are some fundamental and easy ways to perform stretches that may improve posture and reduce the kink in your neck.
In most instances it is not harmful to "crack or pop" your neck. However, The effects of popping your neck create a euphoric sensation from the endorphins released upon "cracking" or "popping." The addictive aspect of these natural chemicals lead to habitual "neck cracking." Instability and worsening of degenerative or inflammatory issues in the spine may result when over-stressing the joints of the spine.
There are multiple quick answers or neck remedies to help your pain/irritation from a kink in your neck. The first thing you should do is use ice or heat to the area. Activity modification is also a good thing to do. Neck stretching exercises can be performed multiple times throughout the day to help with a kink in your neck. However, since your cervical spine is a more delicate region of the body to stretch, you should take extra care to execute the stretches in a slow and controlled manner.
Make a point not to force the stretch to the point of pain as stretching should relieve neck stiffness and pain symptoms. Attempt to hold each stretch for at least 30-60 seconds continuously in a static position.
Cervical flexion stretches may provide relief of neck stiffness and pain that occurs with looking up and down. Cervical flexion involves a movement to look down at the floor.
This stretch should be performed in a pain-free range and a slow and controlled manner. Attempt to perform this stretch by holding each stretch for 30-60 seconds at a time.
A lateral flexion stretch occurs when you tilt your head to one side. Take extra care to make sure you start this stretch with good posture and relaxed shoulders.
Begin this stretch by slowly moving your head in a controlled manner to one side so that your ear approaches your shoulder. Make sure that you do not make the mistake of moving your shoulder up to meet your ear but instead tilt the side of your head towards your shoulder and go as far as you feel comfortable. Reach up and gently pull the head toward the shoulder to feel a stretch in the opposite side.
Do not tilt the entire body; tilt the head. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds and then return to the upright starting position and perform the same stretch on the opposite side, sticking to a pain-free range of movement. This stretch may also help a stiff back in the upper portion of the spine.
A cervical rotation stretch occurs when you rotate or turn the head towards the left or right shoulder. You should make sure you begin this stretch with a straight back and relaxed shoulders. Start by slowly rotating your head as if you are trying to look over your shoulder.
Ensure you only go as far as you feel comfortable and do not go beyond your pain-free range of motion. Proceed to hold the stretch for 30-60 seconds, making sure to breathe evenly, then return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
The cervical stretches described above are ideal for mild to moderate neck stiffness and pain on occasion with a kink in your neck.
Sleeping positions play an important role in managing pain in the neck. It is typically recommended to sleep on the back or the side. Sleeping face down is not healthy for the neck and can increase the chances of having a kink or crick when you wake up.
Having a good pillow is also important. The best pillow for a neck pain or a neck crick is one that places the neck in a neutral or straight position.
Changing positions is also important for limiting pain. For example, lying too long on the right side may cause right shoulder pain and neck pain if the pillow is not at the correct height.
If you notice your neck stiffness and pain worsening or you begin to experience symptoms of radiating pain down your arm, it may be time to see your doctor.
An MD will be able to offer you other treatments or refer you to a specialist, such as a physical therapist. An orthopedic specialist and/or physical therapist will develop an individualized program to reduce your neck stiffness and pain and get you back to pain-free function with no crick in your neck. Learn more about medical massage therapy HERE.
To schedule an appointment with an Orthopedic Neck Specialist, please call 904-JOI-2000, schedule online, or follow the link below. To make and appointment with JOI Rehabilitation, call (904)858-7045.
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