As we get older, certain areas of the body are especially prone to age-related deterioration. The neck, lower back, hips, and knees are rife for problems from decades of use and abuse. The primary symptom that results is pain, which can be both chronic and debilitating.
This post will address neck pain. I have a long history of neck problems due to a lack of normal curvature in my spine in my neck region. Decades of job-related stress and weightlifting haven’t helped. I have had countless doctor’s exams, MRIs, and physical therapy sessions. Eventually, I learned the two keys to maintaining a healthy and pain-free neck.
Whether you have neck pain from a genetic condition (as I do), a minor trauma, or simply from age-related use, the methods I describe can help relieve your suffering. I developed them with the assistance of a physical therapist.
First, let’s explore the role of the upper back muscles in neck health. There is a set of muscles that sit between your shoulder blades called the rhomboids. If your rhomboids are weak and loose, your neck will not have the supportive foundation it needs. As a result, you will be unconsciously stiffening your neck muscles to compensate and to maintain your head in its upright position. The head is quite heavy and it is no small issue to keep it upright all day long if your upper back is weak.
Second, let’s specifically discuss the neck muscles. They become tight over the years due to holding your head upright, the physical manifestation of stress, and other age-related causes. Eventually they become so tight that knots (technically called “adhesions”) form within these muscles, which then restrict your neck movement even more. At some point the joints, from lack of movement and suppleness, can become arthritic. All of this results in chronic neck inflammation and pain.
I refer to these conditions, which are causative of neck problems, as “loose back, tight neck.” Conversely, the cure is the development of “tight back, loose neck.” Therefore, the keys to having a healthy neck are toned and supportive upper back muscles, and loose, flexible neck muscles.
And no, in case you were wondering, a half hour massage won’t solve all of these chronic problems!
In my concluding segment on this subject, I will describe two quick and easy methods for developing a tighter back and looser neck. If applied consistently, these exercises will rid you of neck pain forever.