Neck pain and upper back pain may be two of the most common ailments people experience. From struggling to move your neck to worrying about the position you sit in on your favorite sofa, pain in the upper torso is debilitating.
Yet, many of those who experience these kinds of issues haven’t suffered a fall, twisted their necks unnaturally, or been on rollercoasters since their pain started. For most people, the cause of neck pain or upper back discomfort can’t be pinpointed: there is no single unique moment in which their backs or necks could have been injured.
How did they come to be in so much pain? And if you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking the same thing about yourself.
The really frustrating thing about constant neck and upper back pain is that it just doesn’t want to disappear no matter what you seem to do.
You’ve tried everything: hot water bottles, massages, and even long rest periods, yet nothing has changed, right?
Well, the truth is, it isn’t going to get any better unless you find out exactly why you’re experiencing the pain. See, the thing is, neck and upper back pain often have pretty mundane sources: your everyday habits might be the culprits here. Thus, no matter what you do, if you don’t start there. In lieu of this, take a look at some of the fairly common mistakes people make:
Lack of Exercise
Now, I can hear you thinking from here… “I should be resting my muscles, not moving them!” Well, no, not really. By not moving enough, you are actually setting your recovery back considerably. Muscles and joints need to move in order to maintain mobility.
If you aren’t moving your upper back and neck enough, your muscles will start to stiffen and shorten, thereby placing stress on your joints and decreasing overall movement. This invariably leads to the pain you’re experiencing now.
So, while rest may intuitively feel like the right thing to do, it may actually be doing more harm than good. Why not try doing some gentle stretches to loosen up the painful area?
Furthermore, if you sit at a desk for long periods of time, be mindful of getting up regularly and stretching your neck and upper back. Walk around a bit and take up a new sport like cycling, walking, or swimming during your time off.
Having bad posture is one of the leading causes of upper back and neck pain. Slouching leads to a variety of ailments in the long run, but a tell-tail sign of poor alignment is the nagging discomfort you come to experience in your upper torso.
Start becoming mindful of how you sit and stand: make sure your spine is aligned correctly. If you’re sitting at a desk all day, make sure your chair supports your back correctly, and that your computer – if you use one – is at eye level.
Everyday Habits: Strain on your Upper Back and Neck
You may not know this, but some of the things you do daily actually affect your upper back and neck considerably.
Think about driving, for example. How long do you sit in the car for? And, when you drive, do you turn your neck or just blink into the rear-view mirror when necessary?
These are the types of things you need to start considering when it comes to the health of your upper back and neck.
How long do you stare at your phone, and do you slouch while doing it?
When you bend down to pick up the groceries, the school bags, or pot plants, do you do it mindfully or without regard for your upper back and neck? When you clean the house, play golf, brush your teeth and hair, or shave your legs?
All these daily decisions and actions accumulate over time, and the effect their incorrect execution may have is usually far too understated.
Make a change today:
be mindful and cognizant of how you do certain tasks, how often you do them, and whether you’re aware of what your body is trying to signal to you. The devil is in the details.
When it comes to tackling the issue of upper back and neck pain, as has been mentioned earlier, movement is your best friend.
So move as much as you can and as often as you can. However, be conscious of the fact that you should always be sensitive to the type of activities you’re able to do. Some safe activities on your road to health include pilates and yoga, both of which offer you the opportunity to enhance the flexibility and mobility of your upper back and neck muscles.
You could also try walking, swimming, and relaxing hikes in order to jumpstart your journey to a pain-free life.
In addition to the extra physical activities we suggest, physical therapy is by far the best, safest, and most effective way of tackling and overcoming your upper back and neck pain.
With the help of a professional, hands-on physical therapist, you’ll not only find the root cause of the problem but your particular issue will be treated accordingly, thereby permanently relieving your pain. And not only that, a physical therapist with equip you with the tools to maintain your pain-free life by giving you tailor-made stretches and exercise routines suited to you personally.
Physical therapy will mobilize your joints, relieve stiffness, and rid you of your pain so that you can enjoy the life you deserve.
If you’re unsure about where to start, or you feel discouraged by the daily pain you’re enduring, contact us today. We’re here to uncover the hidden causes of your neck and upper back pain so that you can get back to living the life you dream of. We invite you to fill out the form below to speak to one of our highly qualified specialists and find out how we can help you eliminate your pain today!
Written by Hoang Tran
About the author – Hoang Tran – an expert in occupational therapy
Hoang Tran is a certified hand therapist , the owner of Hands-on Therapy Services and author of the book “The Hands-On Approach”. She loves helping people with hand, neck and shoulder problems, because she knows how bad and debilitating they can get if not addressed and treated properly (once and for all!).
The aim of her occupational therapy practice is to bring patients back to full functionality, without pills, injections or surgery. Occupational and Physical Therapy are both offered at Hands-On Therapy by our experienced therapists who provide a comprehensive approach to your care.
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The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.