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The 5 Step Guide to no Neck Pain

The 5 Step Guide to no Neck Pain

“Sit up tall, keep your shoulders back and don’t slouch” – These are all too common phrases thrown around when discussing posture, especially around the upper back and neck. If you work at a desk for long periods of time you may find yourself inevitably slouching towards your computer screen.

Upper back and neck pain is a common complaint experienced by most people at some point in their lives. Spending endless hours sitting behind a desk can exacerbate these issues.

Poor posture can account for muscle imbalances around a joint. A muscle imbalance occurs when opposing muscles around a joint can become either short and tight or weak and long. This can typically happen to muscles on different sides of the joint; the constant posture we remain in keep some muscles short and tight and the others long a weak – inevitably we end up with a muscle imbalance.

The most common muscle imbalance we see in the upper back and neck is known as upper cross syndrome

Upper cross syndrome is characterised by a forward head position, kyphotic (rounded) upper back, excessive upper neck extension and excessive protracted (rolled forward) shoulder blades.

Essentially when this happens we end up with those muscle imbalances we spoke about earlier.

The result is the following:

  • Weak elongated deep neck flexors (muscles in the front of our neck)
  • Weak elongated scapula muscles (muscles which control shoulder blade)
  • Short and tight sub occipital and shoulder muscles (muscles behind neck)
  • Short and tight pectoral and neck muscles (muscles at front of chest and neck)

It is called upper cross syndrome as the long, weak muscles as well as the short, tight muscles form an X when drawn on a side view of the patient.


Muscles contributing to upper cross syndrome

Short and tight muscles Long and weak muscles
  • Sub occipital extensors
  • Upper trapezius
  • Levator scapula
  • Sternocleitomastoid
  • Pectoralis major
  • Pectoralis minor
  • Rectus abdominus
  • Latissimus dossi
  • Subscapularis
  • Anterior deltoid
  • Serrattus anterior
  • Lower trapezius
  • Rhomboids
  • Infraspinatus
  • Teres minor
  • Deep neck flexors
  • Erector spinae

Now more importantly, how to treat and relieve upper back and neck pain?

All steps can be done concurrently or you may wish to focus on 1 for a period of time before moving on to the next

Step 1: Mobilise – From stiffness to suppleness

Grab a foam roller and trigger point ball and roll out the following muscles:

  • Upper back (thoracic spine)
  • Anterior deltoid and pectoralis muscles
  • Sub occipital extensors
  • Levator scapula

Step 2: Walk tall but not stiff – from slouchy to confident

While it is important to walk and sit with ‘ good posture’, it is not good to remain rigid and fixed in one position for the entire day. If you remain completely upright the entire day than your muscles can become even more rigid and stiff and contribute to more pain.

Try this instead: Think about sitting up or standing up tall with your shoulders pulled back and relaxed. Keep your head stacked over you chest and dont let it come forward.

Step 3: Strengthen – From long and weak to optimal and strong!

Lets just keep this simple and focus on the main muscles that we need to strengthen – remember a muscle kept at long lengths is a weak one – so therefore we want to strengthen that muscles in a shorter position

I have given 3 exercises for this

Exercise 1: Deep neck flexors nods – lying down and against wall

Exercise 2: 4 point cervical flexion and scapula protraction

Exercise 3: Theraband wall semi circles

Step 4: Stretch – From tight to lose

The addition of some stretches will allow you to get some length through those tight and constricted muscles

The key ones to focus on are:

  • Pec stretches
  • Sub occipital stretches
  • Levator scapula and upper trapezius stretches

Step 5: Integrate – From disorganised to integration

Now it is all great doing all these exercise however we want to be able to integrate it into our lives – after all we want to have a pain free neck and shoulder. So here are 3 exercises/ postural techniques to do once you have performed steps 1 – 4

  • Cervical extension and return to neutral
  • Poor postural position to ideal postural position
  • Upper neck rotation and return to neutral

Schedule your 3 step to pain free neck and upper back pain EXPERT SESSION

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  • Become crystal clear about what is causing your upper back and neck pain – this will stream line your treatment and make it as easy and quick as possible
  • Find out the 3 best self management techniques for you to keep your upper back and neck pain away for good!
  • Leave the session with the confidence of knowing exactly what to do to finally get relief from your upper back and neck pain – FINALLY!

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