Feeling pain in your shoulders? Have a stiff neck that tightens when you try to move your head? You may be part of the one-third of people who experience neck pain every year, or the 70% of those who develop shoulder pain at some point in their life.
The most common cause of pain in your upper back or neck is your posture. Take a quick note of how you’re sitting or standing right now. Are you hunched over your phone? Perhaps slumping in front of your computer? This can put extra strain on the muscles and tendons in your neck and shoulders. Pain in this area can also develop due to other factors, such as carrying around a heavy bag on one shoulder, sleeping in a funny position, or lifting something heavy with less-than-ideal form.
Although neck and shoulder pain occasionally fades quickly, other times it can linger on. To make matters worse, neck and shoulder issues often return after they initially disappear. Luckily, there are a few key things you can do to keep these joints moving as they should. Be sure to discuss these with your doctor to ensure they are appropriate for you before you try them.
Use these stretches to relieve tension and increase your ability to move your neck and shoulders. Try taking a break once or twice per hour throughout your day to perform these stretches. Hold each stretch for about 20 seconds before moving on to the next one.
- The Ear-to-Elbow Stretch
- The Crossover Stretch
- The Corner Stretch
Pairing stretches with moves that make you stronger can help prevent injuries. Start with two or three repetitions of each exercise, and gradually work up to doing one or more sets of eight repetitions.
- The Chin Tuck
- The Shoulder Flex
- The Wall Slide
If these measures don’t work and your pain persists, it may be time to see a specialist. Orthopedic doctors can provide pain-relieving injections or surgeries when required, while physical therapists can help you build strength and improve your posture. Ultimately, pain relief is possible — you just have to find what works best for you!
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Tags: neck pain, shoulder pain, stretching, exercise, pain relief