Neck Pain: Part 1

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My neck hurts!

Written by Mitchell Robinson

Since Sycamore Health opened, we’ve treated hundreds of patients with neck pain. Some of the conditions we’ve had great results with include:

  • general day-to-day neck tension
  • acute wry necks (stiff and painful necks with a quick onset - commonly after a bad sleep)
  • whiplash injuries
  • osteoarthritis of the neck
  • neck mediated nerve conditions of the upper limb
  • impaction injuries (landing head first)
  • sports-related neck injuries
  • neck mediated (cervicogenic) headaches

"Those with forward head postures are no more likely to have neck pain." (Richards et al., 2016)

However, a few things are important to remember when it comes to neck pain:

  1. Posture is poorly correlated to pain (O’Sullivan et al., 2011). 
    • Pain is complex and involves a number of factors including physical anthropometrics (physical variation between people), posture, psychosocial factors and physical activity. Those with forward head postures are no more likely to have neck pain (Richards et al., 2016). Perfect posture doesn’t exist and neck pain is more than simply physical loading on the spine.
  2. Sitting in a flexed posture is not hard on the neck!
    • Studies that look at spinal loads and muscle activity show insignificant differences between upright and slumped positons (Caneiro et al., 2010). In fact, sitting erect can actually increase spinal loads (Rohlmann et al., 2001). So relax! Seriously. Sit however feels comfortable.
  3. You were made to bend your neck
    • That’s what they were designed to do. Humans have been bending their necks for as long as we’ve had necks! There’s a lot of outrage in the media about "text neck" (bending your neck when texting) (Wilson, 2018), but where’s the outrage against bending your neck playing chess, reading the paper, knitting, writing love letters, realising you stepped in dog poo, and pretending not to see people at the shops?
  4. Our bodies can adapt!
    • This is how people can bench press 200kgs. Our bodies respond well to progressive loading. Think about sports that place ‘high’ loads on the neck (cycling, heading a soccer ball, headstands, golfing etc.). Your neck is stronger than you think and can adapt over time and become resilient.

Now, you’re thinking, “But how do I actually fix my neck pain!?”

Good question! We need to see you in clinic to accurately assess the specific cause of your neck pain. Nevertheless, exercise is usually a good starting point! And there’s good evidence that theraband exercises can help decrease pain and improve function from as little as two minutes per day! (Andersen et al., 2008, 2011; Bertozzi et al., 2013)

But what exercises you ask? 

Why, these ones!

4. Side raises (...this exercise is NOT just for middle delts!) 

Are you ready to break free of your pain?

We're serious about helping you live life without pain. Right now, you can book in for a FREE initial assessment. No hidden funnies, weird pyramid schemes, or quackery. Just a great chance for you to see how physiotherapy can help you move again. In fact, we're so serious, we even offer half-price treatment should you chose to pursue your tailored therapy, right in the very same session. Press the button below to quickly make an online booking. It's no fuss and super-simple, we promise.

Andersen, L. L., Saervoll, C. A., Mortensen, O. S., Poulsen, O. M., Hannerz, H., & Zebis, M. K. (2011). Effectiveness of small daily amounts of progressive resistance training for frequent neck/shoulder pain: randomised controlled trial. Pain, 152(2), 440-446. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2010.11.016
Andersen, L. L., Kjaer, M., Sogaard, K., Hansen, L., Kryger, A. I., & Sjogaard, G. (2008). Effect of two contrasting types of physical exercise on chronic neck muscle pain. Arthritis Rheum, 59(1), 84-91. doi: 10.1002/art.23256
Bertozzi, L., Gardenghi, I., Turoni, F., Villafane, J. H., Capra, F., Guccione, A. A., & Pillastrini, P. (2013). Effect of therapeutic exercise on pain and disability in the management of chronic nonspecific neck pain: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials. Phys Ther, 93(8), 1026-1036. doi: 10.2522/ptj.20120412
Caneiro, J. P., O'Sullivan, P., Burnett, A., Barach, A., O'Neil, D., Tveit, O., & Olafsdottir, K. (2010). The influence of different sitting postures on head/neck posture and muscle activity. Man Ther, 15(1), 54-60. doi: 10.1016/j.math.2009.06.002
O'Sullivan, P. B., Smith, A. J., Beales, D. J., & Straker, L. M. (2011). Association of biopsychosocial factors with degree of slump in sitting posture and self-report of back pain in adolescents: a cross-sectional study. Phys Ther, 91(4), 470-483. doi: 10.2522/ptj.20100160
Richards, K. V., Beales, D. J., Smith, A. J., O'Sullivan, P. B., & Straker, L. M. (2016). Neck Posture Clusters and Their Association With Biopsychosocial Factors and Neck Pain in Australian Adolescents. Phys Ther, 96(10), 1576-1587. doi: 10.2522/ptj.20150660
Rohlmann, A., Arntz, U., Graichen, F., & Bergmann, G. (2001). Loads on an internal spinal fixation device during sitting. J Biomech, 34(8), 989-993.
Wilson, J. (2018). Your smartphone is a pain in the neck. Retrieved from

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