Everyone has had a sore and stiff neck at some time in their lives, but what is really going on and is ‘just getting on with it’ really a good idea?
Life happens, pains come and go, but at some point we’re fed up with being in pain. When that time comes, we want to do anything we can to get rid of the pain and make it just disappear!
I understand, I have been there, with terrible neck pain from a rugby injury that stopped my focus, my concentration, and my ability to relax and play more rugby (ironic, I know). However, given my field of study, I now fully understand why my body is in pain. There is always a cause to a symptom, just making the symptoms go away does not always fix the cause, and more often than not leads to the symptom coming back within 3 months.
Remember the last time you touched a hot plate, a hot cup of tea, or tested a hot bath? It was ‘hot’ right, or was it painful? Was that pain signal a good thing? Did it make you take your hand away quick before you actually got burnt? It is pretty obvious that if we leave our hand on a hot iron, we will burn and harm ourselves. And therefore, the pain that made you recoil, is a good feedback mechanism! It helps us to avoid more pain in the future.
What if the same were true for neck pain? Is your body trying to tell you something?
This is how I choose to view the human body and our pain experiences. Instead of wanting to eliminate symptoms fast, why not take the time to listen and understand it, and change what we are doing to sort out what is actually causing the pain?
And when it comes to Neck Pain, there are not many parts of your body more important than that to listen to!
As I am sure you know, your brain is controlling every function of your body, both in your control and subconsciously. From your sleep to your balance, your calves to your shoulders. But have you ever thought how the message gets from your brain to your body?
Through the nervous system; the spinal cord and importantly, through the neck. So, any pain signal that may be coming from that area is essential to understand and do something about, as it may be the warning signal that the connections between your brain and your body are not working properly.
Only about 10% of the nerves in your spine control pain (yes that is a giant 90% controlling how your body moves and breathes)! So if we have pain in the neck, quite possibly there is a problem with the other nerves. Like a kink in a hose pipe, less water means a wilted plant, less nerve signal means a wilted YOU.
So next time you have pain, and especially in the neck, ask yourself WHY? And take the time to find someone who will help you understand that and set a plan to solve the problem, and not just the pain.
But for now, let’s have a think about what we can do each day, to help ourselves for free.
Here are my TOP THREE TIPS for preventing neck pain and maintaining the health of your spine and nervous system:
1. Hold your phone up.
Looking down at our phone with ‘text neck’ is the biggest aggravator of neck issues these days. It is not just an aesthetic problem (think of Jade the teenager). It is seriously detrimental to our health over time.
So, choose to hold your phone up to eye level, not bring your gaze down to the phone.
2. Neck roll exercise
Roll a towel up into a cylinder and place it behind the back of your neck as you lie on the floor.
This will help introduce the correct curve and position for your neck.
Do this for 10 minutes every day.
3. Neck movments
This is not a stretch but a movement, take the time to glance over your shoulders, look up and down at the floor and ceiling and bend our ears to our shoulders 10 times in each direction to turn on those movment receptors and turn down those pain receptors.
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