Some stretches and exercises to relieve your neck pain
Cervical or neck pain is one of the most frequent reasons for consultation with osteoarthritis! Stress, position at the computer, lack of sport or certain falls can cause neck pain.
The cervical region is located between the occiput (the bone that is at the base of the head) and the dorsals. It is a very mobile region which allows us to see well and to orient ourselves.
There are different muscles which are in the cervical region or which form the junction between the skull and the dorsals for example. The muscles most commonly involved in torticollis or neck pain are the trapezius, SCOM, and levator scapula (formerly the scapula).
Zoom on the anatomy of the trapezius, SCOM and elevator of the scapula
These 3 muscles have their counterpart on the other side of the cervical and back spine.
The trapezius muscle : it is a large, complex muscle that has a semi-trapezius shape and the union of the two muscles forms a trapezius! It starts from the superior occipital curved line, the nuchal ligament, the external protuberance of the occiput, the spinous processes of the 7th cervical to the 10th dorsal and ends at the level of the clavicle, acromion and spine of the scapula.
The SCOM muscle : it is inserted at the level of the clavicle and the manubrium sternal and ends at the level of the mastoid and the superior and inferior nuchal lines.
The levator scapular muscle : it originates at the level of the spinal border and the superomedial angle of the scapula and ends at the level of the posterior tubercles of the transverse processes from C1 to C4.
Obviously, this is only a summary description of the main muscles affected in neck pain, but the back of the neck is surrounded by many more muscles that could also be involved in neck pain.
It is also important to note that the causes of neck pain can be various, you can have neck pain due to problems in the jaw, shoulder, rib cage, back and on and on.
Some exercises and stretching to relieve neck pain
At the cervical level, it is important to make the movements or stretches gradually because a certain stiffness can be felt in this area.
The mobilization of the cervical is very simple, it is enough to make progressively all the possible movements at the neck level. It is important to take your time in mobilizing the cervicals so slowly start by turning your head to the right and left, then tilt it to one side then the other and finally tilt it forward and back. You may end up doing full rotational movements seeking maximum stretch in all amplitudes.
Keep a deep, slow breath in order to gain stretch during the movements.
Bilateral trapezius stretch
Tilt your head forward slowly, when you are at your maximum flexibility or at your zone of tension, take a deep breath and on the exhale, let your head dive downward. You can do a little counterweight on your head by putting your arms on it, but be careful not to add tension to your shoulders or the stretch will no longer make sense.
Take your time to come out of this stretching and do some neck mobilizations to avoid feeling stiff.
Specific trapezoid stretch
To specifically stretch a trapeze to one side, you will need to tilt your head forward, then tilt it to the side opposite the trapeze you want to stretch and turn your head towards the trapeze you want to stretch. As with the bilateral trapezius muscle stretch, exhaling will help you gain more stretch.
So if you want to stretch the trapeze to the right you will need :
- Bend your head forward
- Tilt it to the left side
- Turn it to the right
To increase the tension, you can put your hand on the side of the trapeze to be stretched, so the right for this example, in the back to lower the shoulder.
You can adjust the degree of head rotation to specifically stretch certain fibers.
Exercise to straighten your bust
Imagine having a tennis ball on your back, between your shoulder blades, and squeeze your shoulder blades together to "hold" that ball for about 6 seconds and then release. Do this several times to avoid having your shoulders protruding forward.
Be careful not to shrug your shoulders while doing this exercise, the shoulders should stay low and go back.
The cervico-dorsal area is very stressed throughout the day, whether at work, on the computer, reading a book or looking at your smartphone. It is therefore important to take care of it and do regular stretching. If you frequently suffer from pain in this region, I even advise you to do these stretches every day for 2 or 3 minutes. It's not much, but it can prevent you from having cervical blockages too frequently. Also remember to do an osteopathy session from time to time even as a prevention to reduce tension in this area.
For more advice or for more information, do not hesitate to contact your osteopath.
Osteopath in Beausoleil
Near Monaco et Cap d'Ail