NECK EXERCISES, NECK STRETCHES,
AND CHRONIC NECK PAIN
People will go to almost any length to get
relief from their Chronic Neck Pain
Although you are told to suck it up, get tough, and stretch through the pain; it never seems to work. It is simple to understand why. I would liken the kind of stretching you have been doing, to trying to undo a loosely knotted rope by pulling on both ends: No matter how hard you pull, you only make the knot tighter! From Dr. Schierling's STRETCHING PAGE.
Although many of you will respond beautifully to Neck Stretching / Strengthening Protocols (whether these are "self-help" or prescribed by a physician / therapist), there are a significant number of you will actually get worse. Why? What gives? After all, A COUPLE OF DAYS AGO I spoke about the importance of restoring / maintaining proper motion in the neck if you want any hope of conquering neck pain. I wrote that, "There is an intimate relationship between loss of normal ranges of motion in your neck, and pain in the neck. If you have poor mobility of the neck, sooner or later it is probably going to give you grief in the form of neck pain. If left unchecked, this neck pain can easily become Chronic Neck Pain". If this is true, how could a stretching and exercise protocol for your neck possibly be a bad thing? After all, the very purpose of stretching the neck is to create more mobility in it. It comes down to understanding the way that the neck functions.
When you 'extend' your neck, there should be fairly uniform joint motion at each and every vertebrae / disc of the lower cervical spine (there will not be much at the top two as it is more involved with rotational movements such as being able to put your nose over your shoulder). If I simply measure a person's overall (sectional) extension without checking the motion of each individual joint via motion palpation (for severely injured patients, some doctors use Video Flouroscopy for this), I can easily be fooled. Allow me to show you an example of what I am talking about.
The pictures that you can see on the right and the left are flexion / extension x-rays of the cervical spine of a 37 year old male who had been through several MVA'S. What you will notice when you look at these x-rays is that there is SPINAL DEGENERATION (thin disc, bone spurs, calcium deposits) present at the C5-C6 vertebral levels. Although a person with this problem might have a "normal" overall range of motion in their neck, there is no possible way that it is really normal.
So; are stretching and strengthening exercises for the neck a good thing? Absolutely! But only after you have cleared the FASCIAL ADHESIONS and SUBLUXATIONS --- in that order. Once you have begun to deal with the individual abnormalities in cervical spine motion (SEGMENTAL MOTION), and gotten rid of the SCAR TISSUE and Fibrosis that is so often the culprit in the hindrance of overall motion (sectional motion), exercises and stretches are a wonderful part of rehabbing and restoring motion, function, PROPER CURVE, etc, to the neck. But put the cart ahead of the horse and and those good intentions could backfire.