Neck pain is often a result of weakened muscles between the shoulder blades and over-used muscles in the back of the neck, often resulting from long driving journeys in the car, cutting a tall and long hedge in the garden or a long day painting the ceiling.
If you suffer from neck pain regularly, you may also experience neck headaches or pins and needles in the arms or hands. Neck headaches result from the muscles pulling on the base of the skull where you may feel some tenderness if you prod the area. The pain can extend over the skull and even be felt in the eye sockets.
Here are some exercises that will take just 5 minutes to perform that should help strengthen the deconditioned and strained muscles of the neck:
- Standing, drop your head to one side while continuing to look ahead. Hold for 10 seconds and swap sides. Repeat twice more each side. To increase the stretch, drop the opposite shoulder.
- Standing again, lower your chin to your chest, hold for 10 and then look up to the ceiling and hold for 10. Repeat twice more. A more advanced version of this would be to lie on your front on the end of the bed with just your head over the end. Slowly nod it up and down to strengthen those same mack muscles further.
- Next, standing straight again, look over your right shoulder and hold firm for 10 seconds, then your left shoulder for 10. Repeat this 3 times. You'll notice more of a pulling or pinching sensation on one side more than the other, which shows you've targeted the muscle knot responsible.
- Finally, while sitting straight, jut your head forward and hold for 10, then all the way back and hold for 10. Repeat another 5 times and that's your 5 minutes done.
These exercises stretch and strengthen the various neck muscles over 2-4 weeks when performed every other day.
If you need extra help, try 200mg magnesium twice a day with food and apply some Atrogel® (Arnica) before bed and upon rising.
Don't perform any of these if they cause you pain but by all means hold any position where you can feel a muscle being stretched gently.
From my personal experience, these exercises can and should be done without aggressive or vigorous movements, they have rid me of 90% of my neck pain performed fairly gently.
If you want to strengthen the muscle in your upper back that are responsible for pulling on the base of the skull, please have a look at the video in the 'upper back pain' section.