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how do I manage neck pain

HOW TO TRAIN WHEN YOU HAVE A NECK INJURY FOR THE CROSSFIT, F45 AND HIIT ATHLETE.

If you love your HIIT, and you know who you are…I’m talking to you, CrossFitters, F45 junkies or you’re a boxer etc, we know that getting back to exercise is likely your number 1 priority! Watch the video or read below to get our tips on getting you back on track as soon as possible.

As we said in our last post on back pain, taking time out of training is boring and can seriously impact on the gains that you have made. When you have become addicted (in the healthiest possible way) to getting the most out of your body, training with intensity and seeing the huge improvements in your health and injuries take on an altogether more frustrating element the can affect your body and even your mental state as well.

The reality is, the better you allow your body to heal, the quicker you can be back to 100% and the less likely you are to have recurring injury, and the rehab is going to take some effort on your part, so what CAN you do to get back into it at full speed?

The first thing to work on is recognising that just like gains you have made, THERE ARE NO SHORT CUTS in healing your injury.

Sadly we cannot immediately heal injuries without letting your tissues repair themselves, but you CAN work smarter to reinforce healing, strengthen what you can strengthen, and make sure that you’re healing things properly to minimise risk of recurrence.

In the video below, Martin outlines some of our possible recommendations for managing neck pain while still keeping up your training.

For those of you who enjoy reading the video is transcribed below.

As always, if you have any concerns, neck issues, be they old or new, or just want to get the most out of your training, we are here for you so don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Hi guys Martin here from Align Chiropractic and what I wanted to talk to you about today is something that we see super commonly, which is people that we're taking care of who have are getting neck pain or other issues with their neck where they are also really keen on their cross fit, their f45 their boxing or other forms of high intensity training. 

The main question they ask us is:

“Do I have to stop doing my training for the injury to get better?”

What I want to talk through with you today are the things that you can do while you're managing an injury so that you're not making it any worse and you can keep the gains that you've made from the training so that you can keep the metabolic conditioning, you can keep losing weight and you can maintain muscle by keeping training even while you’re working through the process with us of sorting out the neck issue. 

First of all, we're going to get you to shift focus. So, neck issues are often exacerbated by upper body exercises and things that are super dynamic so people with neck issues can often find doing sit-ups are really uncomfortable because it strain you can strain your neck a little bit. 

Similarly they might find that pushing weight overhead is uncomfortable because of the position that your neck goes into.

So what we suggest you do is move to some exercises or rather, substitute exercises that are super comfortable. 

Often they are lower body exercises, so you can do air squats or you can do squats where you're holding a dumbbell or a kettlebell. 

You also can do lunges, in fact you can can do almost all of the lower body exercises. 

You may find that while performing more dynamic stuff that there can be a little bit of a jarring. So in that instance we're talking skipping or box jumps, Also running for instance might not be comfortable, so we're going to suggest that you substitute by maybe doing things on an exercise bike or do things where on a rower where you can make sure that you're keeping a more controlled cadence, but most importantly, you're looking after the alignment of your spine by making sure your head is nicely above your shoulder rather than coming forward. 

What we can do upper body wise when we're managing a neck injury: often horizontal things, such as horizontal pushups.

Pushups can be okay so long as you’re keeping your posture really neutral. 

Horizontal pulling like ring rows can be comfortable even though perhaps exercises like pull-ups might not be because of that neck extension that is commonly involved with it.

So key here then is focus on the lower body, get rid of really dynamic movements, like things that have jarring in them and substitute for things that eliminate the overhead stuff in particular. 

The second phase once we have been working with people and we are getting some improvement in the way that their neck is working but they're not a hundred percent, then we're going to start adding in some things that are a little bit more dynamic but are a little bit more forgiving on your neck. 

As we’re reintroducing things we might go “you’re not ready for box jumps yet but you can do step ups” for instance, or “you're not ready for skipping but you can do single leg hops as an exercise”

The key thing to remember here if you're training with a neck injury is first of all you just want to wind things back, shift focus and you can get a lot of benefit in working on lower body stuff then as things start to recover we will reintroduce things but in a modified form that reduces how much jarring and how much movement of your neck is required. 

The important thing to remember is, you can keep training through almost all injuries, the most critical thing though is to think through and get advice on what the things you need to avoid and what really clever substitutions you can put in place.

What to expect when you visit us with Neck Pain

This post is for anyone with neck pain wondering what to expect as part of your initial assessment with us at Align. 

Neck pain is one of the most common issues people will come to visit us for. We are chiropractors after all. 

The goal of your first visit with us is to determine not only the likely cause of your neck pain, but the best course of action moving forward for you as well. 

If you have been watching the other videos about initial visits that we have posted recently, you will notice there is a certain level of commonality between the different assessments.

This is by design.

The video outlines the common elements to our cervical assessment. 

We want our examination process to be accessible to people with various levels of pain, injury or disability, and at the same time give us enough scope to individualise our assessment on an individual basis.  

There is a transcript of the video below. Although why WOULDN'T you want to see it filmed live?

 

 

 

 

 

Hi, Martin from Align Chiropractic and Kieran...also from Align Chiropractic. This video is just going to give you a little bit of an idea of what to expect if you're coming to see us and you're concerned with having neck pain.

The first thing we're going to do, Kieran if you’ll pretend that you’re the person with neck pain is make sure that you get to tell me all that you need to tell me about your neck pain. 

Certainly I have some questions about when it started, what makes it better, what makes it worse etc, and for a lot of people it's really important for us to understand what is it that their neck pain is making it harder for them to do, or stopping them from doing that they need to get back to.  

It’s really important that you get to tell all about neck pain so that we know what's going on. 

Step two: Palpation

When we're assessing somebody who's come to see us with neck pain is a palpatory exam. A plapatory exam is where we use gentle pressure to assess what is happening in your neck, are there areas where the joints are restricted in their ability to move? Are there areas where there's tenderness or discomfort? Are there areas where there's increased muscle tension?

Once we've assessed the neck, often, because the spine is one

integrated system it's all part of one whole system, we extend our palpatory examination through the rest of the spine. 

Sometimes we will also assess other related areas such as your shoulders or your jaw. 

Step 3: Show us your moves

When we are assessing somebody who's come to see us with neck pain is to assess how they bend, move and twist. 

Often when you have neck issues that will affect how far you can go one way compared to the other. The way we measure that is we use inclinometry, which is where we use an accurate measuring tool to see how far you can bend to the left comfortably and then compare the left side to how far you can move to the right. Simple as that.

Step 4: Assess Alignment

When we're assessing somebody who's come to see us complaining of neck pain is that we have a look to see if there’s any alteration in alignment of their spine. 

The way that we do this is we can use specialised software to take a photo of the person and then digitising that photo to see if there’s any misalignment or alteration in their posture. 

The software works by taking a photo and it uses the iPad to make sure that we have a photo that is absolutely vertical. 

The software then places our grid around exactly where straight up and down is and then we can compare landmarks on your body to measure against. 

Your body's landmarks should also be aligned so we can then see exactly how straight up and down or symmetrical your posture is.

 

 

Neck Pain

Neck pain is a common condition that most of us will suffer from at some point in our lives. 

It can arise for a whole host of reasons but if you have ever suffered from neck pain, you know that even mild neck pain can feel like  it is taking over your life! It can make it harder for you to sleep, work, exercise and enjoy time with your friends and family.

The most common causes of neck pain  are day to day movements and postural stresses and  neck pain is rarely the sign of a more serious condition.

In case you aren't sure where neck pain is, here is a stock photo to indicate what a pain in the neck neck pain is. In this instance, pain is indicated by redness.

In case you aren't sure where neck pain is, here is a stock photo to indicate what a pain in the neck neck pain is. In this instance, pain is indicated by redness.

Neck pain can often refer to areas such as your shoulders, arms and upper back, as well as being a cause of headaches.  

Common causes of neck pain include:

  •         Poor posture (the way your body is positioned when standing or sitting)
  •         Sleeping in an awkward position.
  •         Upper back and neck muscle tension.
  •         Injury such as a muscle strain.
  •         Whiplash. 
  •         Prolonged sitting, especially when using a desktop or laptop computer.
  •         Arthritis.
  •         Degenerative changes in bones of the neck as a part of the ageing process or previous injury.

You will notice a common theme to the list above and that is; all of them appear relatively trivial when compared to the impact that neck pain has on our lives.

In fact, for a lot of our clients suffering from neck pain, that adds to the frustration. It doesn't matter if the pain is mild or severe, recent or decades old, most frequently, our clients will say that it just doesn't add up. “Why they are in so much discomfort? Why won’t the pain just go away by itself? Why does it keep coming back?”

How can something so mundane cause so much pain?

In these situations it is highly likely that there is an underlying imbalance of function that meant that their body was ‘on edge’. There was a build up of tension in an area of their spine and that mundane event was just the straw that broke the camels back (for the want of a better term).

Does it make sense to you that if your spine is functioning well that a trivial stress would be enough to make your neck hurt? If your range of motion was symmetrical, your muscles, ligaments and tendons were relaxed, elastic and strong  does it make sense that it would suddenly start to hurt you? 

Of course it doesn’t. 

An underlying imbalance of function is most likely why you notice neck pain that comes out of no where, or won’t calm down, or keeps coming back. 

This is why our initial assessment of someone with neck pain looks for two things:

  1. What is the cause pain and how do we get it to calm down as quickly as possible? 
  2. Is there an underlying imbalance and if so, what can you do to address it to minimise the chances of it coming back?

There are also more serious causes of neck pain that, although much more rare, we need to screen for. 

The more serious causes of neck pain are issues like fracture, disc prolapse compressing on nerves, cancer or meningitis.

We have designed our assessment to be able to determine if your neck pain arises from an issue that we can start to address immediately, requires referring for further testing (such as X-rays or MRI etc.) or if you require immediate referral for medical assessment. 

So how do I know if I need to see you or go to the Emergency Department?

If you are experiencing intense neck pain after a severe head or neck injury, have lost vision due to an accident, are having difficulty swallowing, have lost or severely altered bowel and/or bladder function or your neck pain is linked to intense fever, we advise that you visit your ED as soon as is possible to make sure that you aren’t suffering from more serious conditions. 

If you have any questions or concerns about neck pain, please do not hesitate to get in contact with us at Align.