Soothe Your Neck Pain: Expert Relief Techniques from Our Dedicated Sports Therapy Team

Mar 31, 2024 | Clinic, Mobility

Are you suffering from neck pain? Have you experienced an injury or are looking for relief for your chronic neck pain? We can help. Neck pain is a common issue that can stem from a variety of causes, ranging from muscle strain to poor posture to nerve compression.

In this blog post, we delve into the common causes of neck pain and explore the intricate muscles and joints of the neck. We also discuss how to prevent common neck injuries and provide home exercises and self-care tips to alleviate your pain.

Let’s find out how our Sports Therapy clinic can offer personalised treatment to support in finding relief from neck pain.

What may be the cause of your neck pain? 

Neck pain can stem from a variety of reasons, often related to both physical activity and lifestyle factors. Common causes include:

  • Muscle strain or overuse. Prolonged activities that put stress on the neck muscles can lead to strain. Examples are sitting at your desk for long hours without proper ergonomic support or sports that require constant neck movement.
  • Poor posture. Slouching, leaning, or sleeping in an awkward position can cause the muscles and ligaments in the neck to overstretch and strain.
  • Injury or trauma. Acute incidents can lead to significant neck pain. Examples are whiplash from a car accident or sports injuries where the neck is jerked in a sudden movement.
  • Nerve compression. Herniated discs or bone spurs in the vertebrae can press on the nerves branching out from the spinal cord, causing pain.
  • Wear and tear. Arthritis can lead to the deterioration of the cartilage between bones and result in neck pain and stiffness.
  • Repetitive motion. Activities that involve repetitive neck motion or maintaining the head in one position for extended periods can contribute to neck pain. Examples include swimming or cycling.
  • Stress and tension. Last but not least, emotional stress can lead to tension in the neck muscles. Over time, this discomfort could become chronic, so it’s not to be underestimated.

This list isn’t exhaustive as, often, neck pain can depend on a variety and combination of factors. Here’s a little fun summary on our Instagram feed.

But let’s take a look at the anatomy of the neck to understand where your pain may be coming from.

The anatomy of the neck – what muscles and joints may cause your pain?

The neck, or the cervical spine, is a complex structure that supports the weight of the head and provides a significant amount of movement. It’s composed of seven vertebrae, cushioned by intervertebral discs, and connected by a network of muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

The muscles of the neck can be broadly categorised into two groups:

  • The superficial muscles. These are closer to the skin and are often the most recognisable as they define much of the neck’s shape. They include the sternocleidomastoid and the trapezius (or traps), for example. These muscles play key roles in facilitating head movement and maintaining posture.
  • The deep muscles. These lie under the superficial group. Examples are the scalenes and suboccipital muscles. They are crucial for finer movements and for stabilising the cervical vertebrae.

All these muscles work with the cervical joints, which allow for smooth movement between each vertebra. Along with the neck muscles we just described, the cervical joints facilitate motions like flexion, extension, rotation, and lateral flexion of the head.

Neck pain can arise due to strain or injury to any of these muscles, or inflammation and degenerative changes in the joints. Conditions such as cervical spondylosis (i.e. the wear and tear of the discs and joints) or cervical disc herniation (where disc material bulges out and potentially compresses nearby nerves) can lead to neck pain. Even smaller muscles (like the levator scapulae) can be a source of neck pain, especially when they become knotted or go into spasm.

Understanding the intricate anatomy of the neck is vital for effectively diagnosing and treating neck pain. Thankfully, we’re not asking to become an expert in neck anatomy! That’s where we (as trained Sports Therapists) come in. Thanks to our extensive knowledge, we’re able to develop a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to your specific issues.

neck pain treatment

How to identify and prevent common neck injuries

Neck pain or injuries don’t just happen to athletes or active individuals – anyone can experience neck pain! Naturally, often subjecting your neck to stresses and strains can lead to a range of injuries.

Common neck injuries include:

  • Muscle strains, where fibers in the neck muscles are stretched too far or torn. These might manifest through pain and stiffness in the neck, particularly when attempting to turn the head.
  • Cervical sprains, which involve the tearing of ligaments. These can result in similar symptoms to muscle strains but also cause a sense of instability in the neck.
  • Stingers or burners. These are nerve injuries resulting from the head being pushed to one side and compressing the nerves on the opposite side. Stingers usually lead to a sudden, sharp pain radiating from the neck down to the arm accompanied by weakness or numbness.

So how can we prevent these injuries? While not all injuries or traumas can be avoided, there are things we can do to give ourselves the best chance to stay pain-free. For example:

  • Strengthening the neck muscles.
  • Improving flexibility.
  • Adopting optimal technique during sports activities.

Exercises that target the neck and upper back muscles, stretches that promote a range of motion, and ergonomic assessments to ensure the head and neck are properly aligned during movement will all help.

We also strongly believe that athletes and people practicing sports should be educated on proper techniques to avoid placing unnecessary stress on the neck. This would include, for example, knowing how to safely tackle in contact sports or how to correctly absorb impact. Of course, wearing appropriate safety equipment (such as properly fitted helmets and padding), plays a significant role in preventing neck injuries, as does heeding correct posture both in and out of athletic performance.

Regular rest and recovery are equally important to allow the muscles to repair and strengthen. This is why we believe that a holistic approach to training (one that incorporates strength, flexibility, stability, and rest) can help towards neck injury prevention.

Home exercises and self-care tips

Regular sports massage can effectively alleviate neck pain by increasing circulation, releasing muscle tension, and improving the range of motion through targeted deep tissue techniques and stretches. However, if you can, we also recommend you do exercises at home that will help reduce and eliminate your neck pain.

Here are some strategies you may find helpful:

  • Gentle neck stretches. If this is safe for you, perform slow, controlled stretches to ease tension. For example, you could try tilting your head from side to side and looking down towards your chest, holding each position for about 20 seconds.
  • Strengthening exercises. Incorporate exercises that strengthen your neck and upper back muscles. These could include shoulder blade squeezes to provide better support to your neck.
  • Heat therapy. Apply a warm compress to the neck area for 10-15 minutes to increase blood flow and relax tight muscles, which is especially useful for chronic neck pain.
  • Proper posture. Practise good posture and ergonomic adjustments both at work and at home. Ensure computer screens are at eye level and avoid slouching or craning your neck on your smartphone.
  • Mindfulness and relaxation techniques. Use mindfulness, meditation, or deep breathing exercises to reduce stress-related muscle tension in the neck area.

As with any self-care regimen, we recommend you approach these neck pain exercises and strategies with caution. Always ensure whatever you do is comfortable and pain-free, and preferably, seek the guidance of our team to tailor any exercises to your specific needs and situation.

How our Sports Therapy clinic can help alleviate your neck pain

As you can see, neck pain can be caused by several factors and can affect different parts of your anatomy. This is why our clinic adopts a holistic approach that looks at how your body moves, what activities or sports you practise, and your overall lifestyle. As trained Sports Therapists, we provide a comprehensive assessment to determine the precise cause of your pain.

From there, we develop a tailored treatment plan that may include:

  • Hands-on techniques (such as sports massage and re-alignment techniques).
  • Rehab exercises for you to do at home.
  • Lifestyle adjustments to address the pain and its underlying causes.

As a Sports Therapy clinic, we play a crucial role in alleviating both chronic and acute neck pain for our patients.

  • For acute neck pain, which often results from sudden injuries or strains, we employ various hands-on techniques (like massage, deep tissue work, or mobilisation) to reduce inflammation, promote healing, and ease muscle spasms.
  • When it comes to chronic neck pain, which may develop over time due to factors like poor posture or repetitive strain, we focus on a comprehensive treatment plan that often includes corrective exercises to improve posture, strengthen the muscles supporting the neck, and enhance your flexibility.

Where possible, we’re also more than happy to offer advice or suggestions about ergonomic adjustments or lifestyle modifications to ensure you continue to live pain-free and prevent any future recurrences of neck discomfort.

Kind words from our clients

Here’s what one of our lovely clients, Heather, has to say about trusting us with her neck health: 

“I have been seeing Josie for a few years now, and she’s the only practitioner that has been able to mobilise and improve my neck. She is always a joy to be around and is passionate about helping her clients to the absolute best of her ability. I cannot recommend her enough.”

Would you like our help? Book a consultation to alleviate your neck pain

If you’re experiencing neck pain and looking for professional assistance, our team of skilled Sports Therapists is here to help. We offer a blend of acute intervention and long-term strategies for managing neck pain. Our aim is to help you alleviate your symptoms and address the root causes so we can educate our patients on maintaining a healthy, pain-free neck. If you’d like our help with your neck pain, book a consultation here.