Back pain is something we hear many people complain about. Sitting in one position for hours, not doing enough back strengthening exercises, and not staying active can put tremendous strain on the spine. But there’s another complaint that’s almost as common and has the capacity to be just as debilitating: neck pain. In a poll by Spine Universe’s National Survey of Pain Patients, about half of the 606 people who were surveyed reported having chronic neck pain. They said it prevented them from doing things like reaching for objects, playing sports, and working. A majority also reported having poor sleep.
While pain medication and sometimes surgery are needed to reduce neck pain, there are self-care methods one can follow. Holistic practices like yoga are known for their healing capabilities and can be used to manage neck pain. It has other benefits too like helping you relax and deal with stress more efficiently. If you have neck pain, do get the green signal from your doctor to do yoga. Once you have approval, try these poses below.
A sedentary lifestyle coupled with using computers for stretches at a time can build up tension in the neck and shoulders. The fish pose is an effective way to release this tension. It works the muscles surrounding the cervical and thoracic spine, opens the chest, and encourages deep breathing.
When doing the fish pose, avoid overstraining your neck and arching your lower back too much otherwise you’ll cause more pain.
Neck pain often radiates to the shoulders and sometimes the upper back. The thread the needle pose addresses these three areas by stretching the shoulders and reducing tension between the shoulder blades. It gently twists the spine from the neck to the lower back and reduces stiffness that can otherwise be painful.
Although it looks complicated, the pose is easy to get into and can be adapted to your level of flexibility. However, you should avoid it if you have back injuries. Expectant moms can do it against a wall while standing.
Tight muscles in the neck and shoulders can cause discomfort and pain and can make doing everyday things difficult. The extended puppy pose gives these areas a deep stretch. It loosens muscles and relieves the ache.
Yoga poses as the extended puppy pose requires you to be on all fours, and this can put pressure on your knees. If yours start to feel painful, place a flat pillow or a blanket beneath them.
The rabbit pose is a great neck pain reliever because it stretches the back of the neck. It also opens the shoulders and upper back to release tension. Your brain gets a boost too as there’s increased blood flow that delivers nutrients and carries away toxins.
Place a flat pillow or blanket to protect your knees and head when doing the rabbit pose. Do make sure to grip your heels well to prevent your body from rolling forward and getting hurt.
Cat pose –
Cow Pose –
The cat-cow pose is often used to reduce back pain as it gently stretches the spine. But it’s also a terrific way to manage neck pain. We spend much of our time hanging our heads down looking at our phones or computers. Flexing the neck up and down with the cat-cow pose keeps the neck stabilized.
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If you have carpal tunnel syndrome or if it hurts when you place your palms flat on the floor, use fists to support your body.
One of the best things about yoga is that there are so many poses to choose from. If you have trouble performing one, you can always try another. Most poses can also be modified to suit your ability. Once your body becomes stronger and more flexible, you’ll eventually be able to perform the original poses. Try the ones we’ve covered here and see how they work for you. We’ll be back with more yoga poses for neck pain in part 2 of our blog post!