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Relax your neck and take the weight off your shoulders!

You know that expression about carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders? It may sound exaggerated, but whenever the body is tense, overly worried, and stressed by problems – it’s exactly how we feel. It’s not just the shoulders, either – it’s pain that radiates to the neck, where muscles are straining.

If there is too much tension, the pain and pressure become concentrated in that area. The muscles become tense and very stiff, decreasing our ability to relax. Another term for this is neck tension syndrome, where small and painful nodules form. Stiff neck and tenderness in the trapezius muscle in the upper back can cause fatigue and headache. It is such a common discomfort that certain European countries consider it a public health problem (1). Therefore, we will share with you an exercise and other suggestions to help avoid it.

Why do we get neck pain?

Studies show that 76% of patients with neck pain, either male or female, work in an office and spend too many hours sitting, which plays a key role in their pain (1). Main factors for neck pain include:

  • Looking down for too long (at a phone screen, for example).

  • Improper sleeping positions.

  • Sudden movements that cause self-injury.

  • Poor lifestyle led by stress and tension.

How can we avoid and treat neck pain?

  • Research shows that physiotherapy treatments are highly useful in prevention and treatment. (1)

  • The best way to treat these problems is in synergy, getting electrotherapy and massage in addition to physiotherapy. Everything together works much more effectively. (1)

  • Other studies have proven the benefits of acupuncture in addition to physical therapy for musculoskeletal rehabilitation and improving neck tension syndrome. (2)

  • Proper body posture, both at the office and while we check our phone or watch TV for long periods of time, is critical to avoiding the issue altogether.

  • Occasionally, physicians will recommend the use of medications, such as anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants, analgesics, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and steroids. (3)

  • Preventively, you can reduce risk factors by managing stress and sleep. To help relax the mind and body after the accumulation of stress throughout the day, create a nighttime routine that includes a yummy, warm passionflower tea with Ashwagandha and melatonin supplements, to rest fully better. Magnesium can also help regulate muscle contractions. (4, 5, 6, 7)

An exercise to relax the cervical area

Exercise is one of the best ways to relieve muscles in the neck, as well as the rest of the musculoskeletal system. A meta-analysis of 10 studies with a total of 871 participants helped prove that proper exercise under the guidance of a profession can alleviate pain and other problems. (8)

Below we’ll share with you a basic exercise developed by physiotherapists to help reduce cervical pain by gently flexing the muscles.

Please note, we emphasize the importance of doing this exercise gently, with very little pressure. If you feel pain, stop immediately and consult a specialist.

Instructions:

  • Place your right hand laterally to the right side of your face and push them against each other gently for 5 seconds. It is important to push very gently, then relax.

  • Do the same with your left hand and the left side of the face. Push your hand against your face and your face against your hand for 5 seconds gently. Relax.

  • Do your hand and forehead, gently pushing the head forward for 5 seconds. Relax.

  • Place the opposite hand at the back of the neck, gently pushing the head back for 5 seconds. Relax.

  • Repeat this sequence about 10 times.

  • Ideal to do at the office, before and after exercise, and before bed. This exercise helps relax the cervical musculature and recover normal muscle contraction and relaxation.

Remember, if you have pain you should see a specialist. Regular visits to a physiotherapist should be part of your medical routine, especially if you perform a job that requires long hours in the same position. The backbone that supports us should last a lifetime. Treat it with care.

Let's be healthier together.

Your Santo Remedio Team

References

1.Mersija Kasumovic, Emir Gorcevic, Semir Gorcevic, Jasna Osmanovic. Cervical Syndrome – the Effectiveness of Physical Therapy Interventions. Med Arch. 2013 Dec; 67(6): 414–417. Published online 2013 Dec 28. doi: 10.5455/medarh.2013.67.414-417. PMCID: PMC4272455. PMID: 25568511

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4272455/

2.Daisy L M França, Vasco Senna-Fernandes, Célia Martins Cortez, Morgan N Jackson, Mario Bernardo-Filho, Marco Antonio M Guimarães.Tension neck syndrome treated by acupuncture combined with physiotherapy: a comparative clinical trial (pilot study). Clinical Trial Complement Ther Med. 2008 Oct;16(5):268-77. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2008.02.006. PMID: 18765182

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18765182/

3.Daniel Mazanec, Anantha Reddy. Medical management of cervical spondylosis. Review Neurosurgery. 2007 Jan;60(1 Supp1 1):S43-50. PMID: 17204885

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17204885/

4.Fructuoso Ayala Guerrero, Graciela Mexicano Medina. Effect of a medicinal plant (Passiflora incarnata L) on sleep. Sleep Sci. 2017 Jul-Sep; 10(3): 96–100. doi: 10.5935/1984-0063.20170018 PMCID: PMC5699852. PMID: 29410738

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5699852/

5.Narendra Singh, Mohit Bhalla, Prashanti de Jager, Marilena Gilca An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2011; 8(5 Suppl): 208–213. Published online 2011 Jul 3. doi: 10.4314/ajtcam.v8i5S.9

PMCID: PMC3252722 PMID: 22754076

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3252722/

6.Nava Zisapel. New perspectives on the role of melatonin in human sleep, circadian rhythms and their regulation. Br J Pharmacol. 2018 Aug; 175(16): 3190–3199.Published online 2018 Jan 15. doi: 10.1111/bph.14116

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6057895/

7.Uwe Gröber,1,* Joachim Schmidt,1 and Klaus Kisters1,2Magnesium in Prevention and Therapy. Nutrients. 2015 Sep; 7(9): 8199–8226.

Published online 2015 Sep 23. doi: 10.3390/nu7095388

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4586582/

8.Long Liang, PhD,a,b Minshan Feng, PhD,a,b Xin Cui, MS,a Shuaiqi Zhou, MS,a,b Xunlu Yin, PhD,a,b Xingyu Wang, MD,c Mao Yang, MD,c Cunhuan Liu, MD,d Rong Xie, MD,a Liguo Zhu, PhD,a,b,∗ Jie Yu, PhD,a,b,∗ and Xu Wei, PhDa,b,∗The effect of exercise on cervical radiculopathy. A systematic review and meta-analysis.

Medicine (Baltimore). 2019 Nov; 98(45): e17733.

Published online 2019 Nov 11. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000017733

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6855577/

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