”How To Cure Chronically Tight Neck & Shoulders” is a collaborative post and includes affiliate links. Please see the disclosure page for more information. Disclaimer – always verify medical information with your doctor or a professional and follow all laws for your location.
Do you spend a lot of time sitting at a desk or staring at your phone? If so, then you probably also suffer from neck and shoulder pain. No, I’m not a psychic genius, it’s just one of the most common health complaints of modern times. Some people call the issue ‘nerd neck’ as your head is tilted forward slightly over your body. When this happens, it causes extra stress on the muscles in your neck and upper back. They’re under immense strain which could be one of the reasons why you’re in so much pain.
As a consequence of the head tilting forward – which happens because your posture is bad after all your computer and phone time – your upper back rounds. The technical term for this is kyphosis. When this happens, your shoulders also round forward, leading to issues with the muscles at the back of the shoulder joint.
All in all, this leaves you in a sorry state with so much pain and tightness every day. Read this guide to help to rid yourself of this neck and shoulder pain (or at least hopefully reduce it) and go back to living a happy life!
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Step 1: Muscle therapy
In the vast majority of instances, a sore neck and shoulders caused by poor posture are more of a muscle problem than a joint one. Granted, you may experience some pain in your joints around the shoulder, but this is a knock-on effect of the underlying issue. Therefore, we need to start by treating the muscles. This is done using something called muscle therapy.
Effectively, this is a fancy word for giving yourself a bit of a massage. If you can go to a professional, then it will be better for you. But, self-massaging can be highly effective and you have the benefit of being able to do it multiple times a day for free. To do this, you need a lacrosse ball, or a specific massage ball, and a foam roller. You will then lie on one of your tools and put pressure on the sore muscles in your upper back, shoulders, and neck. When you find a sore spot, this is a trigger point. It’s where the muscle has become knotted and tight. So, breathe deeply, relax onto your massage tool, and gently roll around on the same spot for up to a minute.
You should feel a bit of a release in the muscles and they will feel more relaxed. One way to accentuate the benefits felt from self-massaging is to use some type of cream or gel. If you look at places like Serenity Store, you can find gels that are infused with CBD and provide hot or cold sensations to your muscles. This is beneficial as CBD has muscle-relaxing and pain-relieving properties. If you can’t get your hands on something like this, then a heat spray of gel works well too. Massage that in beforehand to feel even more relaxed.
Step 2: Stretching
After you’re rolled around and giving yourself a massage, you’ve primed your body ready for stretching. The benefit of stretching is that it helps to lengthen out tight muscles. All of the muscles in your neck will be very tight, as will some in your chest and shoulders. When your posture causes this excessive rounding of the back, it means your pectoral muscles get very tight, as do your front deltoids. So, you have to stretch them out to lengthen them and stop your shoulders from getting pulled forwards.
It’s worth noting that stretching should ideally always come after a bit of muscle therapy. This is because you need to get rid of the muscle knots, and stretching won’t do this. Plus, by rolling around and manipulating your muscles you increase the blood flow in the area. In essence, you warm up the muscles. Stretching a cold muscle is never recommended as you could seriously injure yourself!
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Step 3: Strengthening
At this stage, your muscles should feel more relaxed – and a lot of the stiffness and pain have probably even faded away. That’s awesome, but don’t get too cocky! The trick is to maintain this pain-free state. To do this, you need to strengthen your muscles.
If your neck and shoulder stiffness are caused by kyphosis and a forward head posture, then these are the muscles you need to strengthen:
- Rotator cuff muscles at the back of your shoulder
- Muscles of the mid back
- Muscles at the front of your neck
The front two muscle groups will keep your back nice and straight and correct your kyphosis. The neck exercises focus on bringing your neck back into neutral alignment. There are loads of exercises you can do to correct your forward head posture, as well as many to aid with rounded shoulders.
Now, you’ve got a routine to follow. If possible, you can put all three steps together to form a mini rehab workout. Alternatively, find time to do them separately whenever possible. Ideally, the first two steps should be done every day. As for strengthening exercises, you can usually do them 3-5 times per week but be sure to speak with your doctor for best practices.
Step 4: Improving behaviors
Lastly, all of this means nothing if you don’t improve the way you carry yourself throughout the day. If you let yourself sit at a desk and round forward for hours on end, then you’re asking for the problem to rear its head once more.
Consequently, you have to sit with the correct posture at your desk and when walking around. Avoid sitting for long periods at a computer – get up, do some stretches every hour or so. Be more conscious of your posture and will start to see longer-lasting results.
Keep following these steps (with approval from your doctor) and you should see a difference in your neck and shoulder pain for the better. You may experience some instant relief after the muscle therapy and stretches, but your stiffness can come back after a few hours. Put all the steps together and keep following them until you no longer feel any pain. It could take a few weeks, a few months – who knows? But, you should start to reduce pain and get rid of chronic tightness in your neck and shoulders.
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