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Active? Here’s How to Deal With Neck Pain

There are lots of different ways to enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle. For some people it means a daily trip to the gym or run around the neighborhood, while for others it’s a leisurely hike in the woods.

Whether you’re into extreme sports, skiing or cycling, or walking the dog around the local high school’s track, keeping your body moving is good for you mentally and physically – as long as you are doing it right.

There is nothing more frustrating than suffering an injury or pain as a result of doing something that you love … especially if the injury ends up keeping you from that activity either temporarily or permanently. People who are prone to neck pain or back pain have to be particularly careful to avoid this outcome.

The truth is that it’s not the activity that causes most neck pain: it’s caused by overuse and poor technique. Frequently poor posture is the root of all the problems. Whatever the activity, when you extend your neck and adopt an overly aggressive posture, it creates a vulnerability in the muscles of your neck, and this can lead to tired muscles or pinched nerves.

Keeping this risk in mind is something that all active people should do, whether you are a weekend warrior or a gym rat. Every exercise is different, but here are a few ideas of the types of adjustments that can make a big difference:

  • Golf – Anybody who follows professional golf knows that neck and back pain have felled some of the greats. There are a lot of reasons for this: for greats like Tiger Woods, it’s a matter of power, and twist. For everyday people like you and me, there’s a good chance that you’re sticking your chin out when you’re swinging and carrying a golf bag that’s too heavy. Try to adopt two simple changes: tuck your chin in and switch shoulders when you have your bag on your shoulder, and you’ll probably start feeling better immediately
  • Cycling – Whether you are pedaling around your neighborhood or going on century rides of 100 miles or more, back pain and neck pain are the result of a hunched over position creating tension in your neck and shoulders. Taking a moment to remind yourself to flex and unflex your shoulders intermittently during your ride will release stress and correct your posture.
  • Swimming – Do you swim laps? It’s great exercise when done correctly, but it can also lead to lopsided muscle development if you don’t mix in different strokes, especially if you do a side-based stroke like freestyle. Breaststroke, butterfly and backstroke are fine, but if you’re doing “the crawl”, alternating the side that you breathe on will help prevent neck strain.
  • Running – Running is a great sport for keeping you lean and building endurance. It also helps relieve stress by clearing the mind. Unfortunately, the pounding can lead to increasingly bad posture with each passing mile. The best way to avoid this is by adding core strengthening muscles to your daily routine.

Whether as a result of activity or not, there’s no reason to live with neck or back pain. Contact our office today to set up an appointment to diagnose your condition and find the right remedy for you.