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Neck Pain Exercises

Posted in Neck Pain Disorders on Apr 12, 2020

Neck Pain Exercises

What to do when neck pain exercises don’t work

What do I do if my neck pain exercises aren’t working?

The #1 most important thing you need to do is to get your neck looked at in REAL LIFE by someone who is an expert in neck health.

Think about it: if you had heart problems, wouldn’t you want to see a cardiologist? Or you were pregnant, wouldn’t you want to see a prenatal specialist?

So doesn’t it just make sense that if you are putting up with neck pain problems for you to get help from someone whose focus is on your neck health?

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It is remarkably easy to ignore the simplicity of this wise advice.

 

  • Many people think that neck pain is because of stress or because they do too much computer work
  • Many people think that neck pain isn’t severe enough to see a doctor
  • Many people think they can manage it with pills, stretches or exercises

You may have been one of these people who has taken the pills and done the stretches but the problem keeps coming back every couple of days.

If so, do you think what you’re doing is actually working?

If not, then doesn’t it also make sense that now might be a smart time to do something different?

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You can talk to someone through a video conference all day long about your neck pain - and they can even show you all kinds of neck pain exercises and stretches - but if the problems keep coming back, then logically, there must be something else going on.

Something that can only be addressed by someone in real life, and not over the internet

 

Yes, try the neck pain exercises first …

Your body is designed to heal and take care of itself. It is with increasing levels of injury and disease that you may need to consult a doctor or neck pain specialist.

Let me illustrate a variety of physical causes for neck pain in increasing levels of severity:

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  • Sore muscles (e.g., gym workout)
  • Sprain/strain (Grade I, II or III)
  • Dislocation
  • Fracture

With the first one, you would think that you need massage or physiotherapy, and you’d be correct! With the last two, you would think that you need to go to the hospital or see an orthopedic specialist, and you’d also be correct

It’s the other one in the middle - the sprains and strains - that cause the most confusion for people. If it is something obvious like your ankle where you can see swelling and blue-black discoloration, it is easy to recognize the problem. However, if you’re talking about something like neck pain where your spine is involved, all of the muscles and ligaments are on the inside.

You can’t see what’s happening on the inside just by looking on the outside.

If there is obvious deformity and you suspect a broken bone, please go to the emergency department. However, if you suspect that you may only have sore muscles then please try the simple exercises that we have attached here.

  1. Chin Tucks - Retract your head backward like giving yourself a double chin. Hold for 10-120 seconds.
  2. Bobbleheads - In the chin-tuck position, gently allow your head to bobble or nod up-and-down 5-10 times (like a bobblehead doll).
  3. Relaxation - Lie flat on your back on the floor (if possible) for 15 minutes.

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Exercise Relaxation

 

Exercise Bobblehead

 

Exercise Chin Tucks

These are not magic or proprietary exercises! These are basic things that you can do at home on your own to help with your neck pain. Obviously, I prescribe them for our private clients.

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And you know what? Give these a fair go for a week or two. If simple exercise alone - something that you can do for FREE - is enough to help fix your neck pain, beautiful! That is the way your body is designed to work.

However, if you are experiencing sharp neck pain OR if you do the exercises but find that your neck pain keeps coming back every couple of days (or multiple times away), then THAT is a sign that there is more going on beneath the surface than just simple “sore muscles.”

And if so, you can keep doing all the exercises you want, but ultimately odds are that you’re going to have to see someone in REAL LIFE to do a proper series of tests to diagnose the underlying cause of your neck pain, and then recommend a different course of action for you to get the long-lasting relief that you are looking for.

 

… And if the neck pain exercises don’t work, you may want a closer look

There are many healthcare professionals who work with neck pain: chiropractors, physiotherapists, massage therapists, and so forth. Similar to how there are medical doctors with special areas of focus, there are also allied health practitioners with special areas of focus.

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When it comes to neck pain and neck health, one of the leading areas of focus is in something known as “upper cervical chiropractic.”

Unlike general spinal manipulation, upper cervical chiropractic does NOT involve neck cracking or twisting. Upper cervical chiropractic care has been researched and developed in the USA as a method of correcting the alignment for the bones in the upper part of your neck - the C1 (atlas) and C2 (axis) - for the purpose of maintaining normal body health.

One of the key differences that make upper cervical chiropractic so different is the use of customized x-rays. Unlike other neck pain specialists who may take x-rays, CTs or MRIs from standard angles (… or don’t take any images at all!), an upper cervical chiropractor realizes that every human being is built differently on the outside and on the inside.

Therefore, in order to identify what is actually happening with your neck - to discover if there is an underlying reason for your neck pain - and the upper cervical chiropractor will take a series of x-rays that are truly customized for you. In this way, we are able to discover the exact direction and degree of any misalignments in your neck.

And with that level of detail, we are able to design and tailor an adjusting procedure to correct the misalignment in your neck. It is like casting a key for a lock. If the key is the right shape and design, you don’t have to twist to shove it into place for the door to unlock.

So with an upper cervical adjustment, with the right adjustment in the right way and the right place, we do not need to use much force at all to correct the misalignment and then allow your body to heal the way that it is designed. 

 

Why can’t a chiropractor treat themselves?

Whether it is upper cervical care or general chiropractic, it is impossible for anyone to treat themselves.

Yes, I’ve seen the YouTube videos of people showing how to “crack your own neck.” Utter stupidity in my opinion!

  1. How many vertebrae are in your neck?
  2. Which one is actually jammed? And which ones are just compensating?
  3. Which way is it stuck? And at what angle?
  4. Which way does it need to move to properly release?

Unless you know the answer to all 4 questions, manipulating the neck is a very bad idea. Even assuming you don’t cause irreparable damage, you are more likely to over-stretch the wrong muscles. This only makes your problem worse in the long run.

Yes, you can make your neck “crack” - and it might feel freer for 2 minutes before your muscles start to tighten again - but there is a big difference between cracking your neck and actually correcting it!

Even someone like a qualified chiropractor cannot actually treat themselves. The reason is that if you have a vertebra in your neck that is causing your neck pain and it is jammed - truly jammed! - then no routine stretch or exercise is able to release it.

The term that chiropractors use for this type of condition is a subluxation: a misalignment that is entrapped just far enough that your body is not able to fix it on its own.

Part of the problem it seems is that your body’s own muscles are in lockdown mode. This occurs on an unconscious level. So even if a chiropractor did try to consciously manipulate their own neck, their muscles would lockdown even farther resisting an actual correction.

For this reason, any chiropractor who has their own history of neck pain (because even doctors are human too) requires another chiropractor to adjust their neck in order to actually correct the misalignment in their own neck.

(Believe me: before I knew better myself, I used to crack my own neck. If I can spare you the grief I have gone through, please heed my words. Do NOT crack your own neck.)

 

Can neck pain exercises fix a health problem?

Many people with neck pain simply attribute it to stress or too much computer work. They don’t see it as a major health concern.

Well, I would strongly disagree.

Your neck is the literal lifeline between your brain and body. It contains every nerve fiber that controls and coordinates every process that goes on in your body. Your neck is also the most flexible and fragile part of your spine.

Particularly the area right at the top - the C1 (atlas) and C2 (axis) vertebrae in the area of greatest importance but also the greatest susceptibility to injury.

These two particular vertebra support your head movements … and where your head goes, your body goes.

So it matters of neck health, we are not simply talking about simple neck pain. We are potentially talking about something that can affect your brain and nerve system, which can produce a whole-body health problem. Here are just a few of the other most common symptoms: 

 

  • Headaches 
  • Tight muscles and “bad posture”
  • Blurry vision
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Jaw problems

The list goes on!

If you are the type of person who prefers not just to treat the symptoms, but to address the underlying CAUSE, and if you’ve been dealing with neck pain for long enough - and you’ve done the neck pain exercises but they still haven’t really worked - then you’ll agree with me that it’s time to do something different.

And if you are also the type of person who prefers a natural approach - who believes in the natural healing powers of your own body with as little outside intervention as is necessary - and you have not yet had your neck thoroughly examined from the inside-out, then I think you’ll agree that now may finally be the right time. 

It isn’t something that can be prescribed or shown over a Telehealth conference or YouTube video. It is something that can ONLY be done in REAL LIFE with a living, breathing person. 

 

Upper cervical chiropractor Brisbane - beyond neck pain exercises

Dr. Jeffrey Hannah is an Advanced Board Certified practitioner of the Blair upper cervical technique in North Brisbane. He has also studied numerous additional methods focusing on the role of the upper neck (C1 and C2) with neck pain, health and overall wellbeing including the NUCCA, QSM3, and Atlas Orthogonal methods.

He is an instructor for the Blair technique in Australia and New Zealand, an international lecturer and author.

Our practice, Atlas Health Chiropractor North Lakes is dedicated to providing help and hope for people in Brisbane and across Australian seeking healing from their long-term health conditions.

We understand that everyone’s condition is unique, and so if you have found this article to be of value - and this approach resonates with you - we would like to hear from you.

Dr. Hannah offers a complimentary 15-minute phone consultation where he is happy to discuss your case and answer any questions you may have to decide is Blair upper cervical care may be right for you.

If you would like to schedule a no-obligation (free) consultation with Dr. Hannah, simply click the Contact Us link on this page, or call us direct at Atlas Chiropractor North Lakes on 07 3188 9329.

We wish you the best and would be privileged to assist you with your health goals.

Atlas Health Australia - “A passion and purpose for helping people live life again.”

 

References

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Braaf MM, Rosner S. Trauma of the cervical spine as a cause of chronic headache. J Trauma Acute Care Surg. May 1975;15(5):441-446).

Bragatto MM, Bevilaqua-Grossi D, Benatto MT, et al. Is the presence of neck pain associated with more severe clinical presentation in patients with migraines? A cross-sectional study. Cephalalgia. 2019 May 27:333102419854061. doi: 10.1177/0333102419854061. [Epub ahead of print]. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31132869 

Edmonds J. The cervical spine and headache. Neurology, 1988;38(12):1874-8.

Gaul C, Meßlinger K, Holle-Lee D, Neeb L. [Pathophysiology of Headaches]. [Article in German]. Dtsch Med Wochenschr. 2017 Mar;142(6):402-408. doi: 10.1055/s-0042-111694. Epub 2017 Mar 22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28329901 

Mingels S, Dankaerts W, Granitzer M. Is There Support for the Paradigm 'Spinal Posture as a Trigger for Episodic Headache'? A Comprehensive Review. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2019 Mar 4;23(3):17. doi: 10.1007/s11916-019-0756-2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30830498

Millstine D, Chen CY, Bauer B. Complementary and integrative medicine in the management of headache. BMJ. 2017 May 16;357:j1805. doi: 10.1136/bmj.j1805. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28512119 

Teng CC, Chai H, Lai DM, Wang SF. Cervicocephalic kinesthetic sensibility in young and middle-aged adults with or without a history of mild neck pain. Man Ther. 2007 Feb;12(1):22-8. Epub 2006 Jun 14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16777468

Whittingham W, Ellis WB, Molyneux TP. The effect of manipulation (toggle recoil technique) for headaches with upper cervical joint dysfunction: a pilot study. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1994;17(6):369-75.

Wong JJ, Shearer HM, Mior S, et al. Are manual therapies, passive physical modalities, or acupuncture effective for the management of patients with whiplash-associated disorders or neck pain and associated disorders?

An update of the Bone and Joint Decade Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders by the OPTIMa collaboration. Spine J. 2016 Dec;16(12):1598-1630. doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2015.08.024. Epub 2015 Dec 17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26707074

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