What should you do to get over neck pain? Exercising upper body muscles with strength training, stretching and cardio will do the trick, say researchers.
For years, doctors have recommended that patients with chronic neck pain begin actively moving the muscles to "loosen" them.Researchers in Finland set out to see if this advice is actually the best course of action.
Individuals with non-specific neck pain were divided into three groups of 60 to test three different methods of treatment. One group did nothing and took the "time will heal" approach -- the typical approach used by most people I know. Another group focused on endurance training with light exercise, such as lifting the head from tilted to straight positions. The third group performed high-intensity strengthening exercises using an elastic band.
Both the second and third groups lifted dumbbells to strengthen the upper body, while all three groups were advised to stretch and do aerobic exercise three times a week.
The results, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, revealed that while the "do nothing" group did improve some during the 12-month study, the two groups that used exercise improved significantly.
Getting the muscles active with light exercise helped more than the "rest and it will eventually get better" approach, but the high-intensity training group that performed cardio, stretched and did strengthening exercises improved substantially more than the others.
Perhaps there's a lesson in this research for other painful muscle groups. Activity is a great place to start, and a necessary first step!
Have a great day!
Campbell, M.S., M.A., FACHE
Institutes of Health research cited in newsletter,
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