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Tips for Taking Extra Care of Your Neck

Tips for Taking Extra Care of Your Neck

Preventing Aches & Pains in Your Neck

As an extension of your spine, aches and pains that affect your neck can get in the way of your daily routine. We're here to outline some tips to help you take better care of your neck and keep you in the game.

Common Causes of Neck Pain

Neck and Spinal Injuries

Your neck is made up of several bones that are referred to as your cervical spine. Your neck has seven individual vertebrae, which are separated by intervertebral disks that are meant to protect your neck from injury by absorbing shock. Your neck also has muscles, ligaments, and tendons that help to support it and prevent injuries.

Although your neck receives additional support from the rest of your musculoskeletal system, certain activities and movements can cause damage to your cervical spine. Due to the nature of sports, athletes are more likely to experience direct impact, overuse, and posture issues that can negatively affect the neck. Some of the most common neck injuries that affect athletes include:

  • Sprain
  • Fractures affecting the cervical vertebrae
  • Whiplash

A Herniated Disk

Many of us are familiar with the sharp pain associated with having a pinched nerve in the neck. This is actually called having a herniated disk. This happens when you experience an injury to your intervertebral disk; the pain is caused by what comes out of the tear, resulting in irritation and inflammation in the nerves around the injury. This is called radicular pain.

Typically herniated disks affecting the cervical spine happen due to degeneration over time. This can also be brought on by direct trauma to the neck, causing the cervical spine to become unstable.

Cervical Spine Stenosis

Cervical spine stenosis happens when the boney opening of the spine begins to narrow. Unfortunately, this leaves a smaller space for your nerves in your vertebral column or intervertebral foramina. This can lead to compression of your spine’s nerves, causing you pain and discomfort. Typically this causes tingling, numbness, and weakness in the neck.

Preventing Neck & Upper Back Tension

Improve Your Posture

Although it has become increasingly common for people to slouch and slack on their posture, doing so on a consistent basis can cause aches and pains in your neck. Because slouching takes your spine out of its natural alignment, there is increased strain and pressure being placed on your neck and leaving you more prone to injury.

In order to build better posture over time, be sure to keep your head, shoulders, and hips stacked atop one another when standing or sitting. Because many people spend their time at a desk or standing on their feet, it is important to walk around stretch at least once an hour throughout your day to allow yourself to reset your posture.

Support Your Neck While You Sleep

When it comes to getting proper rest at night, your sleeping position and environment can have a direct impact on your neck and back. When getting ready for bed, try to keep your back in its natural alignment. When your back is out of alignment all night, it can lead to unwanted pressure and pain in your neck and back.

Be sure to find a pillow that supports the natural curve of your neck and upper back. Try to avoid pillows that are too firm and too soft.

Stretches for Your Upper Back and Neck

As an athlete, it's important to incorporate stretching into your fitness routine not only to help you reach your fitness goals but to prevent injuries over time. If you want to release tension from your neck and upper back, try out some of these stretches:

  • Thread the needle
  • Rabbit pose
  • Eagle pose
  • Upper trapezius stretch
  • Bridge pose with clasped hands
  • Shoulder rolls
  • Scapular squeeze

Sports Medicine in Dallas and Fort Worth

If you have sustained a sports injury, or you want to improve your overall athletic ability, Methodist Sports Medicine can help. See our full list of services or contact us for an appointment today.