Why stretching alone may not be enough for neck pain

Neck Pain

Like many types of pain, neck pain and tightness has an almost endless list of possible causes. Whether you’re experiencing nagging neck pain from “sleeping weird” or you have whiplash from a car accident, our first instinct is to “stretch” our neck for that quick relief. However, this may not be the best idea! 

Anatomy of the Neck 

The neck is home to our cervical spine, and many layers of muscles, nerves, and blood vessels. One characteristic of the neck is it can tense up when it feels it’s in danger (like when there’s little stability). Improving neck stability and motor control allows the larger muscles around the neck (traps) to do their job! 

Neck Anatomy

Neck Pain from Motor Vehicle Accidents 

We see many patients that suffer from whiplash or neck injuries from a motor vehicle accident. Don’t forget, if you’ve been in a car accident, your treatment with us is most likely covered by your auto insurance. Don’t wait for pain to come!  

Exercise Walk Through by Dr. Patrick 

These three exercises are great for strengthening the muscles of the neck. In this video, Dr. Patrick, our Rockville clinic director, talks through exercises to try. 

Stretching is Not Always the Answer! 

Yes, there are many times a tight muscle causes pain, and stretching can help. But, there are also many times when the real issue is a strength and stability one! An important muscular anatomy and movement principle to remember is there’s an inverse relationship between range of motion and stability. For example, the shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body, but it’s also the most unstable. Repeatedly stretching out a joint can cause a decrease in stability unless strengthening exercises are performed for both the big and especially the small muscles in the area. 

Are you struggling with neck pain? Come and see us!