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Towards the beginning of the lockdown in the UK, we ran a poll on instagram just to see how many people were experiencing neck vs. back pain while they were isolating at home. A huge 70% of people said neck pain has been their main problem at home, so we thought we would give you some pointers as to which of the exercises we often recommend are the best for neck pain relief. Chances are if you’re working from home right now, unless you’ve previously done so in the past, you probably don’t have the best ergonomic set-up, which can make working from home particularly hard on your neck. We’re going to also explain why that is!

Why would you experience neck pain during lockdown?

At a time when a lot of us are probably spending more time sitting, or working from not so ideal set-ups, you’re likely to be putting a bit more pressure on your neck than you normally would. If you’re working from your sofa, your bed or your kitchen table, take note of how your posture is right now. It’s very common to sit with the back rounded and neck pulled forwards, so if you’re working like this during the day and then maintain the same position for relaxing in the evening, it’s likely that some irritation is going to build up over time. At first, you may just experience some light tension in the neck, perhaps some stiffness into the shoulders and upper back, or you might get a few headaches. All of these symptoms are a sign that you may not be putting your neck in the best position throughout the day, and this can cause the ligaments in the neck to loosen and lengthen to the position you’re putting it into the most. This means instead of a nice smooth curve in the neck, it might end up straight – or worse, reversed! This changing of the neck curve can make you more susceptible to injuries such as disc bulges and early degenerative changes, let alone the discomfort and pain that it will probably cause to be stuck in this position. So what can you do to help?

Cervical Extension Exercise

This is one of the best stretches you can do to help ease your neck pain. You’ll need either an exercise band, or you can use a tea towel if you don’t have a band to hand. You can see an in-depth video of how to perform the exercise here, however we’ll talk you through it here as well. Take your exercise band or tea towel, holding each side in each hand. Place it so it’s in the middle of the back of your neck and you’re holding it in front. You’ll then want to gently pull it forwards, then look up as you do so. This should mimic a pumping motion, and you’ll want to do this for around 10-15 repetitions. This is a more suitable exercise than one which is often recommended for neck problems, the chin tuck. Generally we wouldn’t recommend doing chin tucks, where you pull your chin to your chest, to anyone as they can potentially do more harm to your alignment than good. Replace with the cervical extension and you should start to see relief. Also, do try to pick an exercise band with a stronger resistance to it. Don’t be aggressive in the movement, take it slow and it should help!

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Cervical Disc Stretch Exercise

Straight after doing your cervical extensions, take a towel rolled up to roughly the size of a water bottle and lie on the floor with the towel under the middle portion of your neck. It should be quite close to the shoulders in order to make sure that you’re looking up and back, rather than forwards towards your toes. This exercise helps to decompress the neck, taking the pressure off the joints and the muscles. This kind of exercise will be very beneficial to your symptoms so try to lie here for around 3-5 minutes, no longer unless specifically recommended. We have a full video demonstration of how to perform this exercise here.

Icing For 3-5 Minutes

Follow these two exercises up with an ice pack, or bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel, on the back of your neck to help relieve the inflammation. Often when we have back or neck pain, we can often assume that taking a nice, hot shower will be beneficial for the area, but when it’s an injury to the structure of your neck, using ice will be much more beneficial for you to bring down inflammation. When you’re holding it in place, try to keep it in place by wrapping a scarf around the neck, or by holding a towel in both hands with the middle part around your neck to support the ice pack. This can prevent the very common pulling forwards of the neck you’re likely to do if you try to hold it in place with your hand. If you don’t have either of these things, or a freezer, you can also buy Biofreeze gel or spray, this is available to purchase on our online store at: https://store.themayfairclinic.com/biofreeze

We hope you found today’s article helpful! If you have any questions about your neck pain or the topics we’ve covered today, please do get in touch with us. You can reach us through our social channels, or by tuning in to our daily livestreams every weekday either on Facebook or YouTube.

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