Neck Pain

Top Neck and Shoulder Stretches: Trapezius Stretch

John Naumann Neck Pain, Uncategorized Leave a comment  

Here are the top neck and shoulder stretches everyone should be doing.  Neck pain can have many different causes and almost all of them included muscle tightness and muscle guarding.  Breaking up the tension in you neck and shoulders is one of the key elements to recovery.  It is important that when performing stretches in the neck that the individual does not have pain or numbness, but a mild stretching sensation in the muscles of the targeted area.  Please consult with a doctor if you have any questions about this exercise.  This week we start our series off with the Trapezius Stretch or commonly called the Trap Stretch.

upper trap stretchTrapezius Stretch

– Place the back of one hand on your lower back making sure you are keeping that sides shoulder down

– Place the other hand gently across the top of your head, while the head is looking straight forward

– Apply gentle pressure to your head pulling your head towards the hand on head side until you feel a good stretch, no pain. (Do not push down)

– Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds and perform for both sides 3 times


When should I perform Trapezius Stretches?

Whenever you have limited range of motion in neck or have tightness in shoulders.  Perform at least 2-3 times daily.  If you are working at a computer workstation, perform 1 time per hour.

When should I avoid performing Trapezius Stretches?

If you experience an increase in localized pain during and prolongs after stretch, numbness, dizziness, or radiating pain during stretch, discontinue stretch and consult a doctor.


Best Type of Pillow for Neck Pain

John Naumann Neck Pain, Uncategorized Comments Off on Best Type of Pillow for Neck Pain

Have you ever woken up with a stiff neck and wondered if your pillow is causing your neck pain?  Well you could be right.  Your pillow is very important in maintaining proper neck posture while you sleep.  So what are the best types of pillows for neck pain?

Pillows are very individual so it is important to find one that bests fits you.  But here are some of the best available options to meet your needs.

For side sleepers, use a pillow with a bulge/contour under the neck to help support proper spinal alignment.

  • Sleep Innovations Memory Foam Contour Pillow
  • Brookstone Biosense Shoulder Pillow
  • Leesa Reversible Hybrid Pillow
  • Classic Brands Cool Sleep Advanced Contour Cool Gel Memory Foam Pillow


For back sleepers, use a pillow that provides a firmer head support.  Avoid too big or too thin.

  • Classic Brands Cool Sleep
  • My Pillow Premium
  • Sahara Nights
  • Best Cervical Orthopedic
  • ISHOWStore Therapeutic & Ergonomic
  • Bamboo Pillow


Pillows wear out faster than mattresses, so look to replace them every one to two years.  Here is to a better night sleep with less back pain!



Reasons Your Neck Hurts

John Naumann Headaches, Neck Pain Comments Off on Reasons Your Neck Hurts

Reasons Your Neck Hurts and what to do about it

There are many reasons you neck may hurt and the treatment of neck pain is never the same for everyone. Knowing some of the common cause can help you better treat your neck pain!

  • Degenerative Disk Disease (DDD) – As you get older you will inevitably get degenerative disk disease.  Thank gravity for this one.  Your spine experiences constant compression over your life and the discs between your neck bones act as shock absorbers.  These discs begin to wear out over time and become more compressed and less pliable.  This can result in stiffness in the neck and increasing the stress on muscles and ligaments that attach in the neck.  Worst case scenarios, are when the disc degenerates to a point that it allows the nerves in that area to become “pinched”.  Typically ice and heat can help, but if it doesn’t chiropractic and physical therapy can be very helpful.  In severe cases, steriod injections or surgery might be necessary.
  • Neck Strain Injury – The neck is one of the most mobile areas of our body.  It allows for the head to rotate, flex, extend, and side to side motion.  This ability also creates a greater ability for an individual to experience a neck strain injury.  A strain is related to the muscles and ligaments that attach in the neck. A strain occurs when this muscle or ligament become extended with load over a long period of time.  We also call this a static posture.  My neck is holding a static posture while I type.  If I didn’t take an ocassional break to stretch and move my neck.  I could experience a neck injury if hadn’t just paused and moved my head around into a new position.  Make sure to change your neck posture about every 30 minutes when you are in a more strained neck posture.
  • Herniated disk – Your disk is firmer on the outside and jelly filled in the middle.  If the outer layer ruptures and can let the jelly filled interior to push out and apply pressure on a nerve and cause neck pain.  Physical therapy and chiropractic care can help treat the area and allow for the herniation to heal.  In some instances the herniation might not heal and a surgical procedure may be necessary.
  • Tension Headaches – This can be a result of neck pain.  If your muscles in your neck get tight do to static posture or stress it can result in increased pressure in the suboccipital muscles at the base of your skull.  This is most common among people that sit in front of a computer all day.  An Ergonomist can help with setting up your work station to improve your posture and decrease the tension in your neck.  Physical therapy and stretches are also a good option to help relieve your neck tension.

These are some of the most common causes of your neck pain.  Proper posture and changing your posture often can have a significant impact on reducing your potential for neck pain.

Top Neck and Shoulder Stretches: Chest Stretch

John Naumann Neck Pain, Uncategorized Leave a comment  

You may be asking, “What does a chest stretch have to do with the neck and shoulders?”  The chest muscles are often neglected when it comes to stretching to maintain proper head and shoulder posture.  As people work with their hands in front of them, such as, when working on a computer, sewing, reading, etc., they often leave their shoulders in a forward rotated position due to the tension that builds up in the chest muscles.  The result is a slouching posture that leaves the head in a forward position and puts extra stress and strain on the neck and upper back.  By stretching the chest muscles throughout the day you counteract this tension and helps you position your shoulders in a neutral position supporting a proper posture.  When performing this stretch you should feel the stretch across the chest and front of the shoulders.   It is important that when performing stretches that the individual does not have pain or numbness, but a mild stretching sensation in the muscles of the targeted area.  Please consult with a doctor if you have any questions about this exercise.

Chest Stretch

chest stretch– First find a doorway or corner that you can place your forearms and hands in a vertical position

– Make sure that your elbows are not higher than shoulder height when forearms and hands are placed on doorway or wall.

– From this position gently lean into the doorway or corner until you feel a good stretch across the chest and shoulders, remember no pain

– Hold this position for 10 seconds and repeat 3 times




When should you perform the chest stretch?

If you have a slouching posture or anytime you work for a long period of time with your hands in front of you.  If you work in front of a computer this stretch should be performed about every hour.

When should I avoid performing the chest stretch?

If you experience pain in the shoulder or chest when performing the stretch.  Consult with a doctor if you experience any of these issues when performing the stretch.



What your numb hands can tell you about your health

John Naumann Bulging Disc, Herniated Disc, Neck Pain, Pinched Nerve Comments Off on What your numb hands can tell you about your health

Do you experience numb hands?  The numbness in your hands may not be Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.  Many people attribute numbness in their hands to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, but in many cases it can be caused from issues in the neck, shoulder, elbow, or wrist.

The median nerve is the nerve that is involved in with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.  But if you look at the picture to right, you will see it comes out near the armpit, crosses at the bend of the elbow and then glides through the Carpal Tunnel of the wrist.  When affected numbness and pain is experienced at the palm side of the thumb, forefinger, and middle finger.  Compression, or irritation to the nerve anywhere from the spine can refer pain to this portion of the hand.ulnar and median nerves

The ulnar nerve is the nerve that innervates the ring finger and pinkie finger.  Many people experience pain or numbness affecting this nerve when they bump their elbow.  Commonly known as the “Funny Bone” nerve.  This nerve can be affected by compression or irritation at the neck, armpit, inside of elbow, or pinkie side of wrist.

The radial nerve is the nerve the innervates the back side of the hands thumb, forefinger, middle finger, and ring finger.  Many people can experience pain and numbness affected by this nerve when they experience lateral epicondylitis or commonly known as “Tennis Elbow”.  But the nerve can also be compressed or irritated anywhere from the spine, armpit, outside of elbow, or thumb side of wrist.Radial nerve

So the next time you experience numbness in your hand, think about where you are experiencing the numbness and what area you might have irritated or compressed to cause your symptoms.


Improve your Back Health with Proper Sleep

John Naumann Back Pain, Neck Pain Comments Off on Improve your Back Health with Proper Sleep

How to improve back health with proper sleep

Bad sleeping positionOur neck and back health is strongly influenced by how we sleep and what we sleep on.  Ideally we should be spending approximately 8 hours a day in sleep.  This provides the time for the body to recover from a day’s worth of activities.  So one of the key elements of helping people treat back and neck pain is to identify how they sleep.

There are 3 primary sleeping positions, back, side and stomach.  Each position has its pro’s and con’s  from an overall health standpoint, this post focuses mainly on how it relates to the back and neck pain.

Back Sleeper

Back sleeping is the ideal position for better back health.  This position helps decompress the spine from our daily standing and seated postures. It is important to make sure you address proper neck positioning, you do not want it too high or too low creating awkward neck positions.

Side Sleeper

Side sleeping is the most common sleeping position for most people.  With proper pillow placement it can help provide a proper position for good spinal alignment.  Placing a pillow between your knees and proper placement  for you head will support the proper alignment.  Just be aware side sleeping encourages more compression on you body’s organs and nerve supply.  This can result in some numbness and discomfort.  If you are a side sleeper it is recommended that you switch from side to side to balance out the pressure of side sleeping

Stomach Sleeper

From the perspective of proper neck and back health, this position should be avoided. Stomach sleepers are not able to keep proper head and neck alignment, resulted in the spine being put in a twisted position and also increases the pressure in the lower back.

How to train your body to get used to a new sleeping position

Saying you should side sleep or back sleep is easier said than done.  Your body has gotten into a habit of sleeping a certain way and when you are asleep you and you will naturally move into that position when you are asleep.  The key to training yourself into a new sleeping position is the use of pillows.  It is not fool-proof but it can be effective.  The training is performed similar to how your body has trained itself to sense the edge of the bed so you don’t fall off.

If you are a back sleeper and want to train yourself to sleep on your side, maybe due to snoring, place a pillow under one shoulder.  As your body sleeps and tries to lay to its back, it will sense the pillow and roll back to the side position.

If you are a side sleeper and want to train yourself to sleep on your back, you can start in a back sleeping position with two pillow directly under you arms.  This will provide the sensory input to avoid rolling to your side.

If you are a stomach sleeper, use the same technique as above to train yourself to back sleep.  To transition to side sleeping use a body pillow or take a pillow and wedge it between you body and arms (hugging position).

You may have to do slight modification of these techniques to get it to work for you but you should be able to train yourself to get in a proper sleeping position.

How do you address what you sleep on?

What we sleep on is as important as how we sleep.  A proper fitting mattress and pillow are very important to helping support proper body position when sleeping.  There is no single rule of thumb on how to achieve this.  The thing to keep in mind, is if you have a good consistent sleeping position and you suddenly experience neck and/or back pain then it is time to look at the mattress and pillow.

Is the mattress old and worn out?  Mattresses over 10 years old begin to lose their ability to provide consistent support.  If it is this old, consider replacing it.

Is the mattress too soft or too firm?  Everyone is different when it comes to this.  Find out what works best for you.  Most mattress companies have a good return policy and will allow you the ability to return or trade in a mattress within 30 days of purchase.  This time frame is adequate to identify if the mattress will work for you in the long run.

Replace your pillow regularly.  Pillows break down too, so you should look at replacing your pillow if you start to experience neck pain.  Again firm or soft, just make sure it encourages good neck and spine alignment.


10 Worst Jobs for Low Back Pain

John Naumann Acute Pain, Back Pain, Bulging Disc, Herniated Disc, Neck Pain, Physical Therapy Comments Off on 10 Worst Jobs for Low Back Pain


10 worst jobs for back painAccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics sprain and strain injuries are the most common injuries and the back is 2nd most common place for injuries.  Over the years jobs have gotten safer to minimize risk but there are certain jobs that are inherently have a higher risk for back injuries.  Here is a list of the top ten jobs that have a high risk for causing back pain.

  1. Truck Drivers – The risk for this group is the combination of prolonged sitting combined with the need to move heavy loads.
  2. Construction workers – The risk is high in this group due to prolonged bent over positions and working with awkward and sometimes heavy loads.
  3. Landscapers – Landscapers often work with a lot of twisting motions and are often working in bent over positions moving heavy dirt, rocks, and plants.
  4. Police officers – Very similar to truck drivers, going from a prolonged seated position in their vehicle to going into explosive movements to apprehend suspects.
  5. Firefighters – The equipment that firefighters have to carry can be awkward and require forceful movements, increasing the risk of injury.
  6. EMT – The need to go from a seated position to transferring people can lead to back pain
  7. Farmers – Farmers often have to work with heavy equipment and also do a lot of prolonged sitting on their machinery.
  8. Auto mechanics –  Prolonged bent over positions and awkward positions in confined spaces can lead to back pain
  9. Nurses – Nurses are often responsible to transfer, bathe, and dress patients.  This often leads to awkward positioning and can lead to back pain.
  10. Office workers – Believe it or not, working at a computer workstation most of your day is bad for the back and can lead to back pain.

As you can see, the jobs that go from a prolonged seated posture to moving heavy loads or awkward movements are the most likely to cause back pain.  Make sure you stretch before going from a seated posture to lifting and you will reduce the risk of injury.  Are you dealing with back pain?  Contact us 480-633-8293.

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