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The 6 Best Stretches to Relieve Your Neck Pain Quickly

The 6 Best Stretches to Relieve Your Neck Pain Quickly

Does your neck hurt? Has it been hard for you to accurately diagnose where it’s coming from and what’s causing it? The answers are logical and surprisingly insightful. Neck pain can often be caused by tight, sore muscles in your body. Experiencing stress of any kind can typically make your muscles stiff and inflexible, which can manifest as neck pain.

Causes of Neck Pain

Overuse of your neck muscles in an inappropriate position, which is usually caused by poor posture while doing everyday activities particularly in relation to computer or laptop use, can be a prime reason for muscle strain. This can lead to muscle spasms, headaches, and restriction of neck movements, usually leading to chronic neck pain.[1]

Another possible cause of muscle sprain of the neck is sleeping in the wrong position. This can strain the cervical chord that connects with the brain (as can be seen in the image below), leading to a lot of pain and numbness.

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-9-26-56-pm

    via All To Health

    Not taking care of your neck pain can lead to headaches, nerve pain, pain in the shoulders and hands, and more serious health disorders that can potentially affect any part of the spinal chord and brain.

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    Let’s dive into some stretches you can do to alleviate neck pain:

    1. Seated Neck Release

    screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-9-59-54-pm

      via Efficient Life Skills

      This is a great stretch for the sides of the neck to loosen up the neck and shoulder muscles, releasing tension around the sides of the neck.

      1. Simply sit in a cross-legged position
      2. Hold the top of your head with your left hand
      3. Tilt your head towards the left until you feel the right side of your neck stretching
      4. Repeat the same step for the other side of your neck

      Be careful not to apply too much pressure with your hands or you may overstretch the sides of your neck causing a muscle spasm.

      2. Seated Clasping Neck Stretch

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      screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-10-09-41-pm

        via Woodway Wellness

        This can be a great stretch for the back of the neck, along the spinal chord area. And it’s especially good for people who sit at the computer for long hours.

        1. Sit in a cross-legged position
        2. Lace your fingers and clasp your hands
        3. Hold the back of your head
        4. Gently press your head forward until you feel the stretch in the back of your neck
        5. Hold it there for 30 seconds, then gradually lift your head to the normal position.

        Again, be careful not to press your head too far forward, and always be gentle.

        3. Behind The Back Neck Stretch

        screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-10-30-58-pm

          via TCM Cure

          This a great stretch for the neck and upper, middle, and lower back.

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          1. Stand up tall
          2. Hold your left wrist with your right hand on your backside
          3. Gently try to pull your left arm downwards with your right hand while trying to lower your right ear towards your right shoulder
          4. Hold for 30 seconds

          Be careful not to pull your arm too hard!  

          4. Grounded Tip Over Tuck

          screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-11-13-32-pm

            via PopSugar

            This stretch can relieve headaches and drowsiness.

            1. Put your shins and forehead on the floor and come into what’s called a “Child Pose”
            2. Relax in this position for a while, then clasp your hands behind your back and stretch your arms as far back as you can
            3. Shift forward the weight of your body by inhaling and stay there for 5-10 seconds
            4. Gradually move back to your normal position.

            Avoid overstretching or staying in the position for too long.

            5. Seated Heart Opener

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            screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-11-42-34-pm

              via PopSugar

              This is a great stretch for the entire back and neck. It also helps with alleviating any tension in the chest area.

              1. Sit on your heels
              2. Place your palms on the floor behind your back
              3. Continue to stretch your neck and head, arch your back
              4. Lower your head to feel the stretch while staying in the position for at least 30 seconds.

              This can increase blood circulation to your neck and brain, making you feel more alert and also stretching the front of the neck.

              6. Bridge

              how-to-do-a-bridge-exercise

                via 30-Day Fitness Challenges

                This is a great yoga pose that allows you to control how much you stretch the back of your neck.

                1. Lie down flat on your back and bend your knees
                2. Place your hands under your hips and lift your hips high
                3. Feel the extent of the stretch on your neck, depending on how high you lift your hips
                4. Stay here for 30 seconds
                5. Gently return to your normal position.

                Take a hot bath or shower before doing these stretches to relax your muscles and increase your flexibility. This can help to make your neck muscles more nimble and facilitate the alleviation of neck pain faster!

                Reference

                [1] http://www.mydr.com.au/pain/neck-pain-symptoms-and-causes

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                Akshay Sachdeva

                Entrepreneur

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                Published on March 8, 2019

                How Adding Flow Yoga to Your Workout Routine Boosts Your Gains

                How Adding Flow Yoga to Your Workout Routine Boosts Your Gains

                When we fall into a workout routine, our moves become automatic, and the body quickly adapts. This is called muscle memory.[1] While teaching your body how to properly execute squats, push-ups, or crunches is a benefit, overly relying on these moves to consistently grow gains won’t yield the kind of results you want. That’s because the muscles work in the same way every time.

                Simply put, they’re not being “surprised,” so they get lazy.

                Supplementing your routine with flow yoga is one way of surprising your muscles, especially if you are new to the yoga practice and have never tried the postures. It’s like taking a new road home when you drive, deviating from your usual route. Science has found that by doing so, you’re creating new neuropathways in your brain.[2] The same is done in your muscles when you try a new routine.

                How is this done? Let’s dive right into it.

                How Flow Yoga Boost Your Gains in Your Workout Routine

                Think about your current workouts:

                If you lift weights, you rely on external tools to engage your various muscle groups. Over time, your shoulders, legs, or biceps will come to expect the weighted plates or dumbbells, in the repetitive sequences that you remember.

                In flow yoga, we use the body as the weight. Add gravity and hundreds of different postures and combinations, and you have a workout that uses the same muscle groups, but in many different ways.

                A pose such as plank is a full-body workout, with every muscle engaged to keep the body in one long line. While it’s a stationary pose, it requires muscle control and activation, with no room for passivity.

                  A Flow sequence, on the other hand, requires your muscle to switch from one pose to another swiftly, providing you with a more balanced and wholesome use of your major muscle groups.

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                  Not only do these poses and routines re-energize the body in a refreshing way, they also allow you to learn something new, which is powerful for the mind.

                  Bottom line? Complementing your exercise regimen with flow yoga is like hitting the shuffle button on your workouts, using your muscles in ways that “surprise” them, which in turn boost their growth and performance.

                  Energizing Flow Yoga with Added Cardio

                  Flow yoga is also known as “Vinyasa.”[3] In Sanskrit – the sacred language of the practice and its Indian roots – Vinyasa is roughly translated to “one breath, one movement.”

                  This guideline, first and foremost, enhances your breathing, and teaches you how to go from our typical shallow, chest-only breathing, to a more deeper, belly-chest breath that uses the entire lung system.

                  Not only is this beneficial for a myriad of healthcare reasons (combat allergies, eliminate toxins, reduce stress, ease anxiety), it also greatly impacts our muscles,[4] and therefore our workout.

                  Flooding your muscles with rich oxygen will only keep them healthy, while the cardio benefit will get you warmed up to take on the more challenging postures in a flow yoga class. This prevents injuries and cramping.

                  The best example of energizing cardio in flow yoga is the Sun Salutation sequence. Each pose is completed on an inhale or an exhale, until the sequence is finished. One full sequence may be repeated several times, encouraging you to take fuller and deeper breaths. The cycles warm up and loosen the body and prepare the muscles for stationary poses that are held longer.

                  Here’s how to do a Sun Salutation Flow:

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                  Due to the Sun Salutations, the muscles are not thrown into a challenging workout, but rather primed and prepared with energizing breath.

                  Why is this important, you ask? Because happy muscles are warmed-up muscles.

                  The Best Thing About Flow Yoga

                  The best thing about practicing flow yoga? You’re building strength and flexibility.

                  Strength and flexibility are like the Mecca of a wholesome workout routine. Before we get into why this is important, let’s break these two down individually to see how they stand up on their own:

                  Meet Strong Stan

                  Strong Stan is at the gym, doing bicep curls with massive dumbbells. His muscles have peaked in size, and he proudly displays them.

                  While he loves to lift weights, Strong Stan often skips stretching or warm-ups. He just doesn’t see how that could help him continue his muscle gains, so he jumps right into a heavy workout.

                  While it’s not evident to a passerby, Stan’s muscles are hurting. Without sufficient flexibility or deliberate stretching, Stan’s muscles are shortening and getting tighter. This eventually leads to joint injuries,[5] because un-stretched muscles have limited range of motion.

                  Big muscles are a sure indicator of strength, but here’s the kicker – choosing not to prioritize flexibility will keep them inherently at risk.

                  Meet Flexible Fiona

                  Flexible Fiona is in a flow yoga class, easing herself into a backbend.[6] She effortlessly gets into the pose, and “hangs” out there for a few breaths while the teacher cues the class.

                  Even though the teacher instructs the students to engage their glutes and be mindful that this is an active pose, Flexible Fiona opts otherwise, and relaxes into the posture by sacrificing the strength she ought to be building.

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                  To many in the class, Fiona’s execution of the backbend would be a success – maybe even something to envy. However, what Fiona doesn’t realize is that her excessive flexibility is actually a detriment to her joints.[7]

                  Flexibility has been defined as the “absolute range of motion” by Tony Gummerson, Martial Arts instructor. For people who are naturally flexible, that line of absolute range is often blurry and, in practice, overlooked.

                  It’s very easy for Fiona to go above and beyond her range of motion, since her flexibility parameters are much wider than what Strong Stan may experience in a similar pose.

                  Because she doesn’t feel the stretch in the same degree of motion as other students in class, Fiona has to push the envelope of her flexibility. This puts too much pressure on the joints that are already overworked, and it overstretches the muscles that are now prone to tearing.

                  Your goal is to create muscle and joint balance and wholeness.

                  What Strong Stan and Flexible Fiona have in common is that they’re both missing vital pieces of muscle awareness.

                  In Stan’s case, heavy and tight muscles crave flexibility. Without it, not only would Stan hit a plateau in his gains because of a sure injury, but he would miss out on having the lean and toned muscles that we all want to have.

                  In Fiona’s case, her overstretched muscles are not getting a workout at all. Rather, her excessive flexibility is resting on her joints, which leads to definite injury.

                  So what can you do? It’s quite simple.

                  You have to give your muscles the opposite of what they’re used to.

                  If you’re a Stan and hate stretching, focusing on your flexibility is key. You will lengthen your tight muscles, and you’ll create new muscle memory by practicing routines that are new to you and your muscle groups.

                  If you’re a Fiona and hate strengthening, focusing on this priority is vital. Your muscles are used to being passive as you stretch, so shaking up the usual and putting them to work will not only keep you injury-free, but that much closer to the muscle gains you’ve been looking for.

                  Fortunately, flow yoga is the whole package, and can be the one-stop-shop for both Stan and Fiona.

                    Final Thoughts

                    If you’re serious about using flow yoga to supplement your workout routine to boost gains, sign up for a class at your local gym or yoga studio. There are a number of styles of yoga to try, but as we’ve discussed in this article, the Vinyasa style is your best bet to complement a moderate exercise regimen.

                    Many studios offer beginner-style Vinyasa classes, where the instructor will explain the basics, and break down the sequences in a pace that is suitable for entry-level students. From here, the student can build upon their practice, and opt for more challenging, fast-paced classes, such as Power Flow or Ashtanga.

                    Working out is a lesson in teaching your muscles. The gains that we grow are the result of that experience, and it all comes down to conditioning our body in a way that is healthy, efficient, and balanced.

                    With a practice like flow yoga, we can offer supplemental training to our current regimen that will work our muscles in ways that are new, refreshing, and “surprising.” This method will keep our muscles toned and lean, as long as we prioritize the balance between strength and flexibility to ensure that we’re meeting both of these needs. Our muscle gains and body health depend on it.

                    More Resources About Yoga and Fitness

                    Featured photo credit: Edit Sztazics via unsplash.com

                    Reference

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