Neck pain is a very common symptom of anxiety and stress. Stress causes the body to go into ‘fight or flight’ mode. This means that hormones are released causing the muscles to tense up.
Unfortunately, neck pain is likely to increase an individual’s stress levels even further. It is therefore a vicious circle and it can be difficult to banish both the neck pain and stress because one aggravates the other.
It is natural for people to get anxious about neck pain – especially if it exists over a prolonged period of time. Moreover, you may receive conflicting advice on how to deal with the issue.
In a nutshell, stress creates tension which can make neck pain feel much worse and can cause the pain to remain over a longer period of time. Therefore, if stress is an issue for you, it must be identified early on so that you can take steps to manage it.
It isn’t always feasible to stamp out anxiety altogether due to the pressures of everyday life. However you can help to reduce your stress levels by using the following techniques.
- Lie on your back with a pillow underneath your knees. Starting with your toes, focus on each set of muscles and contract and relax them one at a time, gradually working your way up to your legs, torso, shoulders and neck. Just spending a few minutes doing this at any time of the day will help to reduce muscle tension and stress.
Note: If you struggle to get to sleep at night, why not try this when you get into bed? Focusing your mind on your muscles will not only help to relax you, it will also help to block out any of your worries.
- Lying in the same position, breathe in slowly through your nose and out through your mouth, focusing on the rise and fall of your abdomen.
- Heat makes it harder for muscles to hold tension so take a hot bath or shower. In some cases, people also find that the steam and water themselves are very soothing. Adding or using products that contain lavender is also claimed to help.
- Exercise is one of the best ways of reducing stress and tension. This doesn’t have to mean going out for a 10km run. Just a short walk can contribute towards expelling anxiety.
The important thing is to create a mix of exercise and relaxation techniques that works for you. Hopefully then you can break the cycle of neck pain and stress.
If you would like any help in reducing your neck pain, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us at Active Healthcare Clinic on 0114 267 1901.
Suffering from a bad back?
If so, what’s your initial response? Rest or keep moving?
Many people automatically opt for bed rest. However, research shows that bed rest for longer than a couple of days, can prolong the pain.
If the pain is exceptionally bad then, indeed, you may need to rest for a day or two. However, the best advice is to get moving around as soon as possible. This is because:
- It gets your back moving again by stretching tight muscles and joints
- Your bones and muscles get stronger
- You don’t get as stiff, as the exercise stops you seizing up
- Your fitness is maintained, as it gets your heart and lungs working
- You feel less depressed, as exercise generates endorphins
- It isn’t as much of a challenge to get going again
- It speeds up healing because it helps to pump out waste products from the body
- It helps to prevent a recurrence of the injury, as you build the strength in your muscles
We are by no means suggesting that you sign up for a marathon. Do whatever works for you. Start moving and gradually increase your activity every day. It is also important that you continue to work and carry out your normal day to day activities.
There are many exercises that you can include to keep yourself active and ease your pain. Such as:
- Using an exercise bike
However, please be aware that getting your muscles and joints working again can be painful. Don’t let this put you off. If your muscles hurt to begin with it does not mean that the exercise is causing you damage. It’s normally a good sign that you are making progress. If you continue to exercise, the pain should gradually ease off until you reach the point that you can’t feel it any more. Pain killers can help you if you need something to help take the edge off initially.
Don’t let this original discomfort put you off. The longer you delay exercise, the longer you will have back pain and the harder it will be to get back to full strength.
So, will you rest or stay active? Hopefully you will ignore the “bed rest” advice of the last century and choose to keep moving.
If you are suffering from back pain, please make an appointment to come and see us so we can work with you to relieve your symptoms and advise you further on exercise that you can do at home.
*Everyone responds differently. Therefore, we suggest you seek individual advice from your osteopath or GP about what approach would be best for you.