Neck pain affects more than a quarter of Americans and can be the result of a number of factors, ranging from a poor posture, spine problems, or psychological tension accumulated in the neck. A stiff neck can take a toll on an individual’s life, given the amount of discomfort and pain it causes. Many people either resort to pain relievers or warm compresses and heating pads for instant relief, to deal with neck pain. The methods, however, confer temporary relief and neck pain can become a permanent issue in the absence of appropriate treatment or neck pain exercises. Yoga, for instance, can help relieve chronic neck pain. There are a number of yogic exercises for neck pain relief and the blog post discusses five such yoga poses for long-term neck pain relief. The physician who participate in the Texas Health Spine and Orthopedic Center referral line treat patients with various neck and back conditions sometimes using yoga techniques to help alleviate pain. Take a look.
1. Bitilasana and Marjariasana
Commonly called ‘the cow and cat pose’, Bitilasana and Marjariasana are two yogic exercises that relax the spine and make it more flexible. The exercises not only help in relieving neck pain, but also impart strength to the spine. Easy to perform, these poses are effective in opening and creating space through the neck. To start with the cow pose, take a yoga mat and go on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Make sure the wrists are aligned below the shoulders and knees are positioned directly below the hips. Now, look forward and slowly extend through the spine as you look up and straight, softly curving through the back and neck. Next, exhale and reverse the movement to get into the cat pose and tuck your chin towards the chest. For best results, repeat the sequence seven to ten times during any given session.
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The Child Pose or Balasana is an easy yogic pose that aims to relieve neck pain and provide relaxation to overstrained neck and back muscles. The pose has a soothing effect on the mind and therefore, also helps in beating mental anxiety, stress, and depression. To begin the ‘child pose’, get into the “all fours” position, as in the ‘cow and cat pose’, and gradually rest your hips on the back of your heels while inhaling. Now, exhale and stretch your arms forward to reach out to the floor, without lifting your hips off the heels. Once your palms comfortably touch and rest on the floor, bow down your forehead and keep it in the middle of both the hands. Make sure your breathing pattern is natural and comfortable throughout the process, and repeat the sequence multiple times for a few minutes. If you have blood pressure problems, avoid practicing Balasana.
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3. Viparita Karani
Apart from being a great neck pain exercise, ‘Viparita Karani’ or ‘The Legs against the Wall’ Pose, has a placating effect on the mind and nervous system. This neck pain exercise releases pressure off the neck and spine, as the body comfortably rests on the floor. To perform Viparita Karani, you need a folded blanket, towel, cushion, or anything that can be kept underneath the hips for comfort and support during the move. Start the pose close to the wall and be sure that a portion of your hips is touching it. Next, place your feet straight up, resting the heels on the wall. While doing the pose, you are free to keep your hands by the sides or your head; however, the palms should be facing up. Breathe normally in a gentle, relaxed manner and maintain the pose for 5-10 minutes.
4. Ear to Shoulder Pose
Of all the neck pain exercises, ‘Ear to Shoulder’ is probably the simplest, and can be performed while sitted or standing, as long as the spine is straight. To start, stand or sit with a straight back and bring the right ear towards the right shoulder, in a way that you feel the stretch. Repeat the process with the other ear and make sure the head remains in the center, and doesn’t get into a tilted position. In other words, try to keep the head in the same plane as the shoulders. Inhale while bringing the head to the central position and exhale while leaning down to either side. The Ear to Shoulder pose has multiple benefits, as it allows the lateral movement of the neck and strengthens trapezius muscles. Repeat the cycle 10 to 12 times at a time, preferably during morning hours.
‘Savasana’ or ‘The Corpse’ pose is the most restorative and pacifying of all yogic poses. The pose is relatively simple and to start, you need to lie flat on the ground. Extend the legs along the floor and keep arms on either side of your body with the palms facing upwards. Feel free to adjust your body to the desired comfort level- wiggle the hips, position the shoulder blades to be closer to each other, but keep the body free and relaxed. Breathe naturally while and let go of all the rigidity in the body. Keep still in this position for about 5 to 10 minutes or longer, and watch the neck tension fade away.
The Bottom Line
A poor posture can often be responsible for a jammed and stiff neck. Being a desk jockey also compounds the problem, especially in the absence of any exercises for neck pain. You need to invest a conscious effort to keep your neck healthy and perform neck exercises regularly. Medical therapy and consultation is equally important, as chronic neck pain may lead to more problems in the future. If you are troubled by neck pain, the participating doctors at Texas Health Spine and Orthopedic Center may be able to help. The participating physicians possess extensive experience in neck pain treatment and management through a variety of treatment options. To learn more about available neck pain treatment solutions, fill out our contact form or call us at 1-888-608-4762.
Physicians who are members of the referral program practice independently and are not employees or agents of Texas Health Spine and Orthopedic.