Everyone has had a painful neck at some time, be it from a bad sleeping position, a long drive without rest stops or from sporting or occupational injuries. This is where you learn more about neck stress.
Stress is a major contributor. When a person worries a lot or is in a constant state of anxiety, this has a huge impact on their body. There are more neurological connections between the emotional centres of the brain and the muscles of the neck, jaw and shoulders than with any other muscles in the body. So anyone experiencing significant stress in the short or long term is a prime candidate to have more muscle tension in these areas. Hence neck stress.
A lot of the muscles in the neck actually start from the shoulders so any tension there or in the upper back will have a direct effect on your neck.
The common cause is poor posture. If either your shoulders or upper back are dragging forward, the consequent muscle strain in this region will go straight up into your neck. Another cause is when we unconsciously slouch forward we have to tilt our head backwards to see where we are going. This bunches the neck at the back compressing the vertebrae and tightening the neck muscles. These tight muscles then drag on the base of the skull which is a common cause of headaches.
When the upper back and shoulder muscles are not strong enough this can give you ongoing neck problems. Strengthening the upper back and shoulder muscles will strengthen the neck. Remember, if a muscle has to use 100% of its strength to perform a task it will strain easily but if it only has to use 80% because it is stronger it has a big buffer zone before strain. If you have chronic issues you need to see an osteopath. You must get the basic problems sorted out before carrying on with this Stretch for Life health maintenance program.
Having addressed any skeletal issues with your osteopath, the focus shifts to keeping the muscles a bit looser so they don’t jam your neck up. Posture should also be corrected to minimise any perpetuating factors coming up from your back or shoulders.