With more people than ever using smartphones and working on laptops, it’s not surprising that neck and shoulder pain is a common complaint. In fact, neck pain is among the top four most common types of pain.
Most people will experience neck and shoulder pain at some point in their lives, but in some cases, it can impact your daily life. So, what can you do about it? The first step is to go to your doctor so you can be examined. In some cases, there could be an underlying medical issue for your neck and shoulder pain.
However, if no cause is found or bad posture is suspected, then yoga could be helpful.
CAUSES OF NECK AND SHOULDER PAIN
Neck and shoulder pain can occur separately, but they often go together. Some of the main causes include:
STRESS AND ANXIETY
Stress can manifest itself in our bodies in many ways. When you experience long-term stress and anxiety your neck and shoulders are likely to hold tension, which can lead to pain. Gladly, muscle tension in your neck and shoulders responds well to stretching, yoga, relaxation, and other stress relief strategies.
POOR SLEEPING HABITS
Do you often nap or fall asleep on the sofa without a pillow for neck support? That could be causing you to wake up with a stiffness or pain in your neck. It’s important that you have a pillow for neck support; 2 pillows are usually sufficient for most people.
Slumping over your laptop for hours on end is another common cause of neck and shoulder pain. Ideally, your screen should be at eye-level, and you should always sit up straight in your chair. Looking down at your phone is also another major cause of neck pain; try to keep it at eye level when possible.
Neck and shoulder injuries are quite common, especially if you play sports. Suddenly jerking your head or encountering a forceful or heavy object can cause a sprain. You should always see a doctor for any injuries so you can receive the correct treatment. In some cases, you’ll have to avoid sports and heavy lifting for a little while.
BENEFITS OF YOGA FOR NECK AND SHOULDERS
Yoga is beneficial for all parts of the body, but it’s especially helpful for the neck and shoulders. The neck and shoulders are often overworked yet neglected, which can often cause pain and discomfort. These yoga stretches can help to relieve tension, improve posture and flexibility, and strengthen muscles.
Before you try out any of these yoga stretches, it’s important that you seek advice from your doctor if you have any underlying conditions. They can advise on whether these poses will be appropriate for you or whether adjustments might be needed. Take it slow at first; if you can’t do one of these poses, move on to the next. You may be able to try it another time.
CHILD’S POSE VARIATION
Child’s pose is great for beginners, and there are so many variations to suit all levels. Child’s pose triceps stretch is a great pose to unwind and relax your mind. It also helps to relieve tension in the neck and shoulders.
HOW TO PERFORM CHILD’S POSE TRICEPS STRETCH:
- Start by getting in child’s pose.
- While keeping your elbows pressed against the mat, bring your hands up and press your palms together.
- Make sure your thumbs are pressed against the base of your neck.
- Try to hold this pose for 30 – 60 seconds.
THREAD THE NEEDLE
Do you often feel pain and tightness in your neck? Thread the needle pose can help with that. This stretch provides a deep stretch in the back, neck and shoulders and can help to relieve tension. It’s also a great yoga pose for beginners!
HOW TO PERFORM THREAD THE NEEDLE:
- Start on an all fours position with your knees hip width apart.
- Then lift your left arm off the mat and slide it beneath your right arm.
- Lower your back and your left shoulder to the ground while pressing your ear against the mat.
- Hold for at least 15 seconds.
- Repeat on the other side.
Puppy pose is somewhat similar to a child’s pose, except this stretch focuses on the upper body. Puppy pose is great for relieving tension in the back and the hips, but it’s also good at alleviating neck and shoulder pain.
HOW TO PERFORM PUPPY POSE:
- Start on all fours with your knees hip distance apart.
- Without lowering your hips, walk your hands forwards until your arms are outstretched.
- Rest your forehead on the ground.
- Hold this stretch for at least 30 seconds.
Neck rolls are suitable for most people because it can be done while sitting down and it’s not strenuous. Performing neck rolls regularly can help to reduce the strain on your neck and shoulders.
HOW TO DO A NECK ROLL:
- Sit on your yoga mat with your legs crossed.
- Keep your back straight but your shoulder relaxed.
- Start with your chin tucked into your chest.
- Roll your head to your left shoulder.
- Then slowly roll your head to your right shoulder.
- Come back to centre.
- Repeat a few times as necessary.
A chin tuck is a different type of stretch that only focuses on the chin and neck. Chin tucks can help to correct poor posture, which can be a major contribution to neck pain. It also helps to strengthen the neck and improve flexibility.
HOW TO DO A CHIN TUCK:
- Stand up straight and relax your body.
- Look straight ahead.
- Tuck your chin back into your neck.
- Hold for 5 – 10 seconds then release.
SEATED NECK TILT
Seated neck tilt pose is one of the easiest and most effective ways to stretch your neck muscles. It will also relieve tension in the shoulders.
HOW TO PERFORM SEATED NECK TILT:
- Sit down on your yoga mat with your legs crossed.
- Stretch out your left arm.
- Then place your right hand on your left ear and gently move your neck onto your right side.
- You should feel a deep stretch; hold it for several seconds.
- Repeat on the other side.
SEATED EAGLE ARMS
Seated eagle arms can be done sitting down on a yoga mat or on a chair, making it accessible for most people. This pose can help to improve strength and flexibility in the wrists and fingers, but it also works at relieving tension in the neck and shoulders as well.
HOW TO PERFORM SEATED EAGLE ARMS:
- Sit down in a chair or on a mat.
- Raise both arms and cross your right arm under your left.
- Place your right hand on your left palm.
- Hold for several seconds then swap sides.
Fish pose has many benefits. It can help with relaxation, strengthening the abdomen and improving posture. The most notable effect is how it helps to strengthen the neck, back and shoulders. Performing this pose regularly can greatly reduce neck and shoulder pain caused by poor posture.
HOW TO PERFORM FISH POSE:
- Lie down on your mat.
- Put your hands underneath your hips with your palms faced down.
- Lift your upper body off the mat and let your arms and hips support you.
- Hang your head back until the top of your head touches the ground.
- Hold this pose for a minute or two (or whatever feels comfortable to you) and release.
Neck and shoulder pain can take its toll on you, especially if it’s starting to impact your day-to-day life. However, performing these yoga stretches every day or at least a few times a week, can make a lot of difference. Soon enough, you should see some relief with your neck and shoulder pain!
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