Waking up with neck pain

Ever woken up with a stiff, painful neck? One of the most common complaints from patients that come into Waverley Chiropractic Centre is pain when waking up in the morning. Sometimes the pain can be described as a “crick” or “kink” in the neck. The result is not only pain but an overall decrease in the range of motion of the neck. So, how does this happen?

The main cause of neck pain upon waking is poor sleeping position.

People who sleep on their stomachs typically have the most issues with their necks because of poor positioning. When sleeping on the stomach from 6-8 hours each night the head must be rotated to the left or right when laying it on the pillow so that you can breathe!. During the day we don’t sit or stand with our head turned to one side for 8 hours, so why do it at night?

Another way to develop the “kink” or “crick” is by sleeping on more than one pillow or a pillow that is too large. This will cause the neck to either be pushed forward or to the side too much where it is not aligned with the rest of the spine resulting in misalignment, muscle pulling and pain.

One more factor is that overnight our necks are immobile ie they aren’t moving much. Your spine loves movement so this lack of movement will contribute to any stiffening or locking of the joints.

What does it mean to have a “kink” or “crick”?

This is a term used when the bones, also known as vertebrae, in the neck are locked up and putting pressure on the nerves leading to pain and decreased motion. What chiropractors call a subluxation. Some people like to refer to this as a “pinched nerve”. The locking of the neck may also cause muscle pulling over a period of time that can lead to spasm and inflammation resulting in pain.

How does the “kink” get fixed?

As chiropractors we help to treat the problem in the neck with an adjustment or manipulation. This will allow the bones/joints to be restored to their normal motion in the neck which results in reduced nerve pressure. After the first adjustment, range of motion and pain will start to improve but inflammation is still taking place. The use of ice for periods of 10 minutes at a time will help with decreasing swelling and pain between adjustments.

Once the neck pain has reduced and overall range of motion is restored then it is very important to start a cervical strengthening program.

IS YOUR SPINE SKI-READY?

Heading up to the snow this weekend? Here’s some timely information from the Chiropractors Association of Australia.

Winter sports such as skiing are an excellent way to enjoy the colder months. While skiing is an exciting sport, the low temperatures, icy surfaces and high speeds can result in an increased risk of injuries. It is not uncommon for skiers to suffer from muscle soreness and injuries as a result of the strenuous exercise and falls.

While it is not possible to entirely prevent injuries, these tips can help you reduce the risk of injuring and straining your back.

Prepare before you hit the slopes

Skiing is a physically demanding sport that requires strength, endurance and high fitness levels. Whether you’re new to the sport or a seasoned skier, it can take a toll on your body.

It is important to build up your strength and stamina before hitting the slopes. Pre-ski season conditioning can reduce the incidence and severity of injuries. Follow an exercise program that focuses on improving core strength, flexibility and balance.

Warming up prior to a skiing session is also imperative. It doesn’t need to take too long – try some light exercises and gentle stretching for 10-15 minutes before you start skiing, to get your muscles ready for the vigorous exercise ahead.

Start slowly

Most of us ski infrequently and it’s common for there to be a long gap between skiing holidays which means it is easy to be out of shape and out of practice.

Starting slowly and carefully can help reduce the likelihood of injury. Start with at least one warm-up run down the easiest hill to get to grips with the slopes. Only move on to a more challenging terrain when you feel confident in your ability.

Lift properly

Injuries don’t just happen on the slopes. Carrying heavy skis and other equipment can lead to lower back strain. Make sure you lift equipment properly, keeping the back straight and bending at the knees, not at the waist. Avoid turning or twisting the body while lifting heavy objects.

Stretch it out

Skiing includes movements that are sporadic and sudden. This can be potentially stressful for the spine and the surrounding muscles.

It is important to stretch before and after skiing. Stretching allows the muscles to loosen up and may help prevent sports injuries.

If you are looking for a stretching program, try the Straighten Up exercises included in the Straighten Up (Australia) app. These are also designed to improve spinal health, stabilise core muscles and enhance health.

Invest in good equipment

Make sure you use equipment that fits properly and is right for your size. Wearing gear that is too big can be especially dangerous as it reduces the amount of control you have on the slopes and also puts strain on your body.

Know your limits

Avoid skiing on a slope that exceeds your ability level. If you feel like you’re not entirely in control, stop immediately and try an easier slope instead. Keep within your comfort zone until you have sufficient practice and feel more confident.

Remember to listen to your body. If you’re feeling tired, stop skiing. Fatigue can lead to poor judgement so be aware of how you are feeling and rest when you need to.