Neck Exercises and Physical Therapy
Everyone experiences minor neck pain from time to time, but chronic or recurring neck pain can be debilitating. It may prevent you from engaging in daily activities and make even simple tasks such as tying your shoes or reading a book difficult.
Fortunately, there are various treatments available to help relieve your neck pain. A physical therapist can create an individualized treatment plan with exercises for neck muscles as well as lifestyle modifications to prevent future episodes of neck discomfort.
Physical therapy for neck pain aims to increase range of motion and strength, reduce inflammation, and minimize pain and stiffness. This may involve manual therapy (mobilizations), massage, traction, electrical stimulation, ice/heat treatments, gentle range of motion exercises and stretching as well as exercise.
At ImPackt Physical Therapy, our physical therapists will conduct an initial evaluation to identify the source of your discomfort and craft a tailored treatment plan tailored to meet your individual needs. This plan will address both treating the pain itself and improving movement so you can get back to living life fully.
Stretching and Strengthening – Your physical therapist will teach you neck stretches to increase range of motion in your neck, as well as strengthening exercises to build muscle strength. These stretches can be done both standing or seated, enabling you to move more freely and efficiently.
Aerobic Conditioning – Exercising increases blood flow to your neck muscles and soft tissues, loosening up tight areas in the back of your neck. It also stimulates endorphin production – endorphins are natural painkillers produced by the body which may reduce discomfort.
Trigger Point Exercises – Your physical therapist will teach you trigger point exercises that can help relax tight neck muscles and relieve neck pain. These will involve applying gentle pressure to the painful area with a fingertip.
You can try these exercises at home to see if they provide relief. This will be a helpful indication of whether or not physical therapy is necessary in order to learn how to perform neck stretches and strengthening exercises correctly and in the correct order.
If you suffer from neck pain due to poor posture, your physical therapist can instruct you on how to sit erectly with your head in the neutral position and how to walk more uprightly to avoid letting your head protrude forward. Doing this will create a habit of avoiding this forward-head position and, over time, help alleviate pain.
Your physical therapist will use manual therapy (mobilization/manipulation, massage, traction), dry needling and various exercises to relax and strengthen the neck and upper spine muscles. They may also teach you proper posture which will reduce the likelihood of future injuries.
Most cases of neck pain can be resolved with several weeks of physical therapy and, once that is complete, your physical therapist will teach you how to maintain these improvements at home so the symptoms do not recur. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary in order to alleviate the pain completely.