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Tips to avoid, heal constant pain in the neck

July 26, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Many of us are guilty of habits that create constant pains in our necks. Food Coach Lori Corbin shows you how to head off neck pains.Do you cradle your phone between your ear and your shoulder? No wonder you've got a continual pinch in your neck. Along with cradling, there's a host of other things we do that causes neck pains.

"It's really the fact that your muscles are in a certain position for a long period of time and then your muscles get used to that position, that shortened position," said physical therapist Andrew Lee of Breakthru Pasadena.

Lee also said from commuting, to computers and carrying kids, our bodies are in a constant forward motion which shortens chest muscles for extended periods of time.

"The front musculature shortens, but then everything in the back is then pulled and lengthened," Lee explained.

This puts constant strain on muscles resulting in tension and knots in the neck area.

"I usually have people just clasp their hands behind and simply look up," Lee advised.

Holding this position for about 10 to 15 seconds opens up the neck and chest together. Lee advises that you should break from work to do this every quarter hour for relief.

Those who cradle the phone have a constant contraction of neck and trapezius muscles which can create tension and knots.

"Normal muscle really lengthens and shortens. The thing is, when people have a knot, they develop a knot and then you stretch. You'll see that nothing really happens to the bad part," explained Lee.

Massage can help, but standard stretching won't work until that knot is worked out.

Another trick that can help neck pain is to place your bent elbow against a doorway and look away in the opposite direction.

"The important thing is to keep the elbow there and kind of lean forward and actually look away," described Lee.

Hold for one minute and then repeat. Remember, if done too quickly, there will be no change.

At home, try making the letter 'T' on a stability ball. Lean on the ball with arms out and thumbs up with shoulder blades down with chin tucked in. Squeeze together for about five seconds

Similarly, then try the letter 'Y' with arms in a v-like position with thumbs up.

"You want to build up to doing 15 to 20 repetitions," said Lee.

At home or the gym, strengthen the upper body with a set of lateral arm raises up to shoulder level, and then do a set of front raises to shoulder level. Finally, do a set of v-raises, with shoulders low and away from your ears and with your shoulder blades down.


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