There can be many reasons for your neck and shoulder pain but stress is likely one of them. When you are being subjected to mental and physical stress over and over again, your muscles contract as a reflex action. This happens forcefully in some cases.
Stress affects the body in a variety of ways, from mood swings to headaches and random weight fluctuations. Anxiety, low moral support along with other psychosocial factors have been linked with potential causes for neck pain. Stress-related to neck and back pain is often overlooked or ignored. Over time, repeated bouts of stress can cause pain in the neck muscles. When not treated it can spread through the shoulders and cause headaches.
This chronic pain causes irritability, fatigue and depression. Wondering how you can deal with stress-related to neck and shoulder pain? Do neck stretches work? Do yoga poses like cat/cow release muscle tension? What about meditation and aerobic exercises? Today we will be learning everything about how to manage neck and shoulder pain triggered by stress. OK, let’s move on to ways you can reduce stress-related tension.
1. Neck stretches
If you work long hours in front of a screen, sitting in an uncomfortable position, then your neck muscles will tense up. This deep stretching exercise will ease tension and improve your range of motion. For this, you will have to stand up straight. Using your right hand, hold the top of your head with fingers pointing towards the left and gently pull it towards your right shoulder. Do the same with your left hand, on the other side. Doing this 3 to 4 times, every hour, throughout the day, on each side will relax your neck muscles.
Stress-related neck and shoulder pain is a regular struggle for most of us. Chronic pain is often associated with high levels of stress. Meditation may offer long-term pain relief as mindfulness meditation successfully eases chronic pain induced by stress. While you may not be able to completely eliminate the cause of stress, through meditation you will suffer less. It is one of the easiest ways of reducing inflammation. Practicing meditation, even just 5 minutes of being completely present and concentrating on your breathing, will release stress and reduce the pain.
3. Progressive muscle relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation or PMR, is a muscle relaxation technique that helps reduce symptoms of chronic pain in the neck. This method asks you to tense up certain muscle groups while breathing in and relaxing them as you breathe out. Doing this to selected body parts will physically relax you. When you are physically relaxed you will not feel anxious! You will eventually find relief if you stick with it in just a couple of weeks. Remember to breathe in and hold your breath for a maximum of 10 seconds before breathing out quickly.
This may seem a bit extreme and kind of the opposite of relaxation, especially after meditation. However, doing aerobic exercises like jumping jacks or arm circles will engage the muscles present in the neck and shoulders. This will increase the flow of blood to the muscles, stretch them and release toxins. Other than that, doing any physical activity that kind of gets your heart rate up will release endorphins which dulls pain and invites feelings of well being.
Massage is a relaxing activity that works great with relieving stress. When massaged on the knots the muscle spasm is released. If your work requires you to be hunched over your laptop for hours, then you know this pain all too well. It’s the body’s natural response to tense up when in a stressful situation. Some symptoms of neck tension include – muscle tightness, muscle spasm, difficulty turning your head in certain directions and pain that worsens while sitting in specific positions.
6. Eat right to reduce stress
In order to get positive results while dealing with stress related neck and shoulder pain, it is important to nip the pain in the bud. In this case, stress. A proper, well balanced diet, can counterbalance the pain caused by stress along with strengthening the immune system, reducing blood sugar and stabilizing mood. Some of the most important nutrients for stress reduction includes food rich in complex carbs, vitamin C, magnesium and omega 3 fatty acids. You can also feel good after indulging in healthy comfort foods like dark chocolate, chamomile tea, oatmeal and mint.
7. Neck release
This has to be one of the most gentle and easiest ways to release neck and shoulder tension. You will have to stand tall with hands on either side to start. Next slowly and in a controlled manner lower your chin towards your chest. Then gently tilt your head to one side, hold the position for 30 seconds and do the same on the other side. Doing this simple exercise up to 5 times a day, no matter where you are, will help in loosening up your neck and shoulder muscles. Before we move forward, do you have lower back pain? Check out these safe and effective exercises to release this pain. Now let’s get back to ways to reduce stress related pain in the neck and shoulders.
8. Child’s pose
When the child’s pose yoga position is done properly it is one of the most effective ways to relieve strain in the back, shoulders and hips. When performed with an open mind – letting gravity do the work, this position is sure to induce a great sense of physical, mental and emotional relief. Begin by kneeling on a yoga mat. Next, exhale and slowly rest your behind on your feet assuming a comfortable sitting position. Finally, slowly rest your torso over the thighs so that your forehead is touching the mat.
9. Cat/Cow Pose
As funny as it looks, the cat/cow pose has some amazing health benefits. It is the most beneficial for improving blood circulation between the vertebrae which helps relieve back pain and stress. All you have to do is come to a tabletop position on all fours. Once in this position, engage your core into a cow position by inhaling and pushing your belly towards the floor. While inhaling, lift your neck and eyes up to the ceiling along with your tailbone. After a couple of seconds assume the cat position by exhaling and pushing your back towards the ceiling, drawing the navel in. Repeat this process 10 times for best results.
10. Thread The Needle
Threading the needle may sound complicated but it is an easy and a powerful way of relieving tension in your back, neck and shoulders. For this you will have to get into a tabletop position like the last exercise. Slowly slide your right hand through the gap between your left hand and left knee with your right palm facing up. Your body will rotate towards the left along with your arm until your right shoulder touches the floor. Your left hand will be supporting your weight. Before returning back to the starting position hold this pose for 30 seconds. Repeat this process on the other side and do this around 3 times.
Here are some other ways of dealing with stress pain in the neck and shoulders: Apply a warm compress wherever you feel knots or muscle tension, add a couple of drops of aromatherapy essential oils for extra relief. Do self-massage everyday on the affected area. Adjust your workstation so that your computer or laptop is at eye level. This will help you avoid neck strain. While sitting on a chair, make sure your posture is correct. This means your ears, shoulders, and hips should be in a straight line. Every hour, make sure to get up from your workstation and take a 5-minute walk. To offer some extra support while sleeping, use a special pillow that is designed to keep your head and neck aligned. We have all experienced stressful episodes in our lives that have impacted our physical health. Along with stress, overexertion and bad posture also contribute to chronic neck and shoulder pain. Managing stress may be a difficult job but doing it persistently will allow you to reap some amazing results. Not just for your mind but for your body and soul.