Neck Pain

| November 4, 2016 | 0 Comments

It’s a pain in the neck!

By Dr. Christine Fraser – OSTEOPATH

Over a life time 85% of us will suffer from a form of back pain, at some point or another. I am one of them and we have a number of clients that some in to the clinic with neck complaints. We often recommend stretches and exercises for the neck and strengthening exercises for the core, so your neck problems aren’t too much of a pain in the neck. The go-to exercise for abs is the sit up. So why are sit ups just so annoying for my neck?


Firstly, the most common cause of neck pain during this exercise is poor form. A sit up requires you to curl your scapulae (shoulder blades) and spine away from the floor, with your feet and low back remaining grounded. To support your neck it should be slightly tucked in and your hands can be on your temples or back of your head. If you are not engaging your abdominal musculature correctly, you may use your neck to extra range. After a few repetitions this will begin to cause you that familial pain.

The second is weak or poor spinal stability. The ‘core muscles’ that assist our low back are well known but our neck has these too. These muscles are attached at the base of your scull and are deeper than all the other ‘pretty’ neck muscles. These pretty muscles do a great job in the gym but not so good at long term support for the spine. They often fatigue quickly and are recruited when our core, stability posture muscles switch off. Our supporting neck muscular team include rectus capitus posterior major and minor and splenius capitus superior and inferior.

Things to tell you whether you’re using your neck?

  • Your ‘pretty’ neck muscles, including SCM’s (sternocleidomastoid muscles – run down the front of your neck from your jaw to your breast bone) and upper trapezius (‘traps’ the muscles that run along the top of your shoudlers) will stand out.
  • You make be moving or tucking in your head.
  • Your neck may be shaking.
  • You may feel discomfort and tightness at the front and back of the neck.

I suggest to ‘tuck your chin in’ when doing abdominal exercises. This is not just making a double chin but lengthening the back of the neck as you slightly pull the chin in. This helps to switch on those supportive neck muscles. Squeezing your bottom may also help. This engages your gluteal, pelvic floor and lumbar (low back) supportive muscles. It basically tells you pretty neck muscles that the body has ‘got this one’.

Alternatively, there are a number of core abdominal exercises that you can do that aren’t sit ups. If you, like me, are prone to neck pain, just ask your trainer what else you can do! You can contact the Centre (03 52553411) if you’re after more information on your neck pain

Filed Under: Injuries / Recovery

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