Physio: Take the time to work out that pain in the neck

Many of us suffer from neck pain and endure daily discomfort, aching, tightness, and stiffness.

Many of us suffer from neck pain and endure daily discomfort, aching, tightness, and stiffness.

While stretching, massage, and hands-on treatment from your physiotherapist, chiropractor, massage therapist, craniosacral therapist or other practitioner may provide relief and help to restore range of motion and decrease your pain, strengthening of the muscles in the neck is often overlooked.

If any of you have seen the movie Jerry Maguire, you will remember Ray, the little boy with a penchant for reciting random trivia including the fact that the human head weighs eight pounds.

If that is the case, imagine carrying an eight-pound bowling ball all day long, every day, in your arms. Now imagine doing the same thing, but now the bowling ball is meant to be balanced on the top of your body.

Imagine how much strength and endurance those muscles would have to have in order to hold up the bowling ball when your head is not neatly stacked on top of the spine, for example, when riding your bike, when bending and lifting, and even more commonly, when sitting in a slouched or hunched position.

Not an easy task for your poor neck muscles!

Most of us know that we need to strengthen our heart and lungs for good cardiovascular health and that we need to strengthen the muscles in our arms, chest, and back for daily activities that involve pushing, pulling and lifting. But most of us forget that our neck muscles need to be strong and ready to support us throughout the day.

For most of us, the goal is actually to wake up the smaller, deeper neck muscles that are the “back up singers” to the bigger stronger “mover and shaker” muscles that most of us identify as the ones that become tight and stiff over time, or after an injury.

Finding these deeper stabilizing neck muscles requires focused concentration, and less than maximal effort of contraction to properly activate.

Any more than this low-level contraction, and your larger mobilizing muscles such as your upper trapezius, levator scapulae (your “shrugging muscles”), scalenes, and sternocleidomastoid muscles (strappy muscles on the front of your neck) are eager to take over, causing them to be overworked and resulting in hyperactive, tight muscles.

These bigger muscle groups are designed only to help with movements of the head, with or without resistance; the smaller deeper muscles are designed to sit close to the vertebrae in your spine and help to stabilize and maintain and support your alignment and posture in various positions.

Both groups are meant to work together from the moment you rise in the morning to when you retire for the night.

With the help of a qualified professional, many different neck strengthening exercises can be done that require little to no fancy equipment.

However, there are also advanced neck strengthening machines such as the Hanoun Multi-Cervical Unit (MCU) that can provide your therapist with immediate objective measures such active range of motion (ROM) and amount of resistance used, allowing you to keep track of your progress.

Strengthening your neck muscles is worth the investment in your time and effort. Many of us are motivated to engage in various forms of exercise or physical activity to help us feel stronger, look better, and function better in our daily lives or in a specific activity.

So why not put the time in to help get rid of that nagging pain in your neck?  Because really…who likes a nag?

Yun Cheung is a registered physiotherapist and kinesiologist at Sun City Physiotherapy.  She is a Stott-certified Pilates instructor and a certified strength and conditioning specialist.

Just Posted

Kelowna asking court to shut down pot shops

City seeking injunction to stop five marijuana dispensaries from operating

Traci Genereaux remembered at Vernon vigil

Family and friends remember Genereaux as a “fiery red-head with the best sense of humour”

UPDATED: Body found in burnt Kelowna home

“Firefighters later updated police that a body had been discovered inside the home. “

Angler fined for over-fishing on Gardom Lake

It was an expensive fishing trip for an Okanagan man this weekend.… Continue reading

NDP’s Shelley Cook to try again in Kelowna West

After losing to Christy Clark in May, Cook will vie for the seat again when a byelection is called

Tattooing couple opens new shop in Lake Country

Cody and Fabiana Philpott opened NSI Tattoo in August

David Cassidy, teen idol and ‘Partridge Family’ star, dies at 67

Cassidy announced earlier this year he had been diagnosed with dementia

Fintry Queen still looking for a home

Fintry Queen owner wants the tourist vessel in the Penticton Parks and Rec master plan discussions

Major grant bolsters Penticton doctors research on pain

Local research team is headed by Penticton rheumatologist

LETTER: Jumbo Valley is part of Ktunaxa territorial claim

Ktunaxa Nation Council responds to Tom Fletcher column

3,800-plant grow-op busted on First Nation reserve

Three men face charges after RCMP bust a large drug operation on the Soowahlie Reserve near Chilliwack

VIDEO: Government approves funding of $750,000 drug for B.C. woman

Approval comes one day after province announces funding for Soliris on a case-by-case basis

B.C. boy’s social media bid to get levidrome in the Oxford dictionary goes viral

‘It’s been five weeks and has totally blown up today.’

Whistler venues could see 2026 Olympic action

Calgary is looking to cut down on costs

Most Read