Struggling With A Stiff Neck?

Stuggling With A Stiff Neck?

One of the common issues that clients come to see me about is a stiff neck.  This can be really debilitating and painful, as well as being very inconvenient when you need to look behind you and find that you can’t.  This image illustrates just what I am talking about!

Two of the main causes are: poor posture; usually due to sitting in the same position for too long, such as looking at a mobile phone or a computer screen at the wrong angle, or perhaps sitting knitting or sewing with your neck in a forward position for a long period of time; or due to an injury such as a car accident or a fall.

There is usually pain in the neck when trying to turn your head, accompanied by all sorts of alarming cracking and creaking noises. If it is very severe just holding your head up straight will be painful.  If it is due to poor posture, then this can come on gradually until you become aware of an inability to turn your head when reversing or trying to look behind you. 

Sometimes the pain is not just in the neck but also in the shoulder, upper back, and possibly in one or both arms.  You may be able to move your head freely one side but not the other.  When you observe people with a stiff neck, they often have to move their entire upper body around when they want to look behind them. 

Sometimes a stiff neck clears up on its own.  It depends on the severity and the cause of the problem and so it can vary from a few days to a few weeks.   If a stiff neck lasts longer than this then you may need to seek help from your GP or a therapist. 

It isn’t commonly known that neck pain can also be caused by an issue in the jaw, and a good therapist will be able to help you with this. Pain doesn’t always originate where you can feel it.

Below I have listed some self-help techniques which you can easily do at home.

  • When to Seek help.  If the pain and lack of mobility continues for more than a few weeks, then it is recommended that you get yourself checked at the GP. 
  • Red Flags. If severe neck pain commenced after an accident, then you should seek help without delay.  If your stiff neck is accompanied by nausea, fever, severe headache, vomiting then seek help immediately.
  • Time.  Most times a stiff neck caused by poor posture will ease off by itself in a few days to a few weeks. Time may be all that is needed for the damaged tissues to heal. 
  • Heat and Ice.  If there is pain, then you can apply a heat pad or ice pad for the first couple of days.  Experiment to see which helps the most as it varies from person to person. 
  • Medication. You can buy over the counter medication such as ibuprofen to help provide temporary relief from the pain.  Seek the advice of your pharmacist.
  • Support.  Advice used to be to wear a neck collar, but this is no longer recommended.  It is better to keep your neck unrestricted, and to keep it moving gently and slowly.
  • Healing.  It is important to remember that the body is a self-healing organism and can usually heal itself without requiring any intervention. 
  • Rest.  If the neck pain came on after a strain or injury, then the tissues are likely to have been damaged, so it is important to rest for a couple of days to allow the damaged tissues to heal. This means avoiding excessive twisting or movement of the neck such as gym, swimming, sports.  After a few days you can start to move the neck actively again.
  • Self-Massage.  The simplest technique is to roll up a towel.  Lay down on the floor (a bed is too soft) and place the rolled up towel under your neck.  Gently roll your head from side to side making sure your head is relaxed.
  • Exercises.  The best exercises are the simplest ones.  Do not push further than the point where you feel resistance.  Repeat each exercise several times and do at least twice daily.  If you consistently carry out these exercises regularly you will find that it helps a great deal.
    • Turn your head from left to right slowly and carefully.
    • Drop your chin down to your chest and then look up to the ceiling.
    • Take your right ear to your right shoulder, and then take your left ear to your left shoulder.
  • Therapy.  If restriction continues, a therapy such as Bowen Technique, massage, chiropractic or osteopathy will help to relax and relieve the tightness and pain, allowing for freer neck rotation.  It is important to keep doing gentle neck exercises (above) and to reconsider your postural habits.

I hope you have found this article useful.  Do contact me if you have any questions.

Who Am I?

Sue Jaycock Bowen Therapist

My name is Sue Jaycock, I am a Bowen Therapist and a Massage Therapist working from my home clinic in Daventry, Northamptonshire. 

Here is a review from one of my clients who had neck pain.   You can read more here:

“I went to Sue because of a stiff & clicky neck. Her treatment was gentle, but really effective. Thoroughly recommended.” SW

However, Bowen isn’t just for back pain! It’s an amazing therapy for all sorts of musculoskeletal issues, aches and pains, stress and tension. Find out more here.

If you live in the Daventry area and you would like to know more about having a Bowen session with me, do get in touch.

Thanks for reading.

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3 Tips for Neck and Shoulder Care

3 tips for neck and shoulder pain3 Tips for Neck and Shoulder Care Between Appointments

People with neck and shoulder issues sometimes have their pain return before their next Bowen or aromatherapy appointment. Work, play and children all make demands on the body. A dull ache can quickly turn into a burning pain especially while working on the computer or any of the other million things you do.
 
What can you do between appointments to take the edge off neck and shoulder pain? Here are some ideas.
 

Take a Break:

Take short breaks as often as you can if you sit at a computer all day. Move your shoulders around and s-t-r-e-t-c-h. Ideally you can get up and move around a bit. But even if you’re chained to the desk, there are some simple exercises you can do which will help you to keep flexible.

Self-massage:

Try it, you might be surprised how much it helps! It’s not complicated, just grab a tennis ball and check out these techniques.
 

Choose the Right Pillow:

You spend about a third of your time in bed, be sure it’s cozy for your neck. Side-sleepers have different needs than belly-sleepers. The right pillow at night can help you all day.
 
A few minutes of self care every day, little changes, can make a huge difference in how you feel. See you at your next appointment!
Thanks for reading.
Sue

Bowen for Hairdressers

Bowen for HairdressersI want to talk about Hairdressers. I went along to my local hairdressing salon in last week. I love having my hair done, I get to relax and unwind while the stylist is sorting out my hair. As I was sitting relaxing I took a look around me at the busy hairdressers and I noticed that they all have their shoulders up around their ears. They are non-stop, standing all day and having to hold their arms up whilst cutting, washing, colouring and drying hair. If they are lucky then the salon has adjustable chairs, if not then they have to adjust their height to the height of the chair and the height of the client. The stylist who coloured my hair said that she has to wear high heels because she is short and the chairs do not adjust. This has meant that her feet are perpetually painful, with painful aching legs and chronic shoulder, neck and back pain.

Hairdressers also get pains in their forearms and wrists. Imagine standing all day holding your arms up in the air while carrying out precision movements repetitively. It makes me get back ache just thinking about it, it is like a form of torture.

These un-natural movements cause the muscles to tense and then the joints of the neck become stiff and inflamed. Nerves from the neck travel down the arms and the spine.   It is much better if there are short periods of intense activity and then a break.

So if you are a hairdresser what can you do about it? Here are a few tips:

Before you start work, and between clients, make it a habit to do a few stretches – you can do these 2 or 3 times or more if you have time:

    • Let your hands drop down to your sides and shake your hands and wrists out to relax the muscles.
    • Turn your head gently to the left and to the right as far as you can go without forcing it. Drop your head down onto your chest slowly, and then lift it back up and look up to the ceiling.
    • Drop your head down onto your chest and gently and slowly roll your head in a semi circle until your head it looking at the ceiling, and back again.
    • Don’t be alarmed about the crunching and clicking – this is a good sign that you are releasing tense muscles.
    • Roll your shoulders one at a time, forward a few times, then back a few times, then repeat the other side.
  • Sit on a stool when you can to relieve the pressure on your lower back and feet.
  • Wear sensible supportive shoes which support the arch of your foot.
  • Request that adjustable height chairs are purchased.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the client to move position to help you.
  • Drink plenty of water to hydrate tissues and remove toxins.

Still getting aches and pains? Come and see me for a Bowen Treatment which will help you get your body back in balance and help relieve those aches and pains.