Exercises for the Neck - Cervical Stretching

Stretching your cervical muscles is very important. Stretching exercices for the neck will Restore and increase range of motion in the neck. In the cervical spine, we are looking to increase range of motion in Flexion, Extension, Lateral Flexion and Rotation. Here are four simple exercises you can do everyday:
flexion and extension exercises for the cervical spine
1. The First neck exercise is called Cervical Flexion (bring your chin to your chest) and Cervical Extension (look up to the ceiling). You want to start by tucking your chin in and gently bringing your head foward and attempting to touch the chin to the chest. Next, gently bend the head backwards as far as it will go. Repeat this exercise 5 times.

Lateral flexion exercise for the neck
2. The next neck exercise is called Lateral Flexion. Bring your right ear to your right shoulder as far as you are able to. Do not rotate or turn your head when you are doing this neck stretch. Then bring your left ear to the left shoulder. Repeat this for 5 times

3. Next part of the program is called Rotation of the Cervical Spine. In this exercise you want to turn your head to the right as far as you possibly can, trying to bring your chin over your shoulders. When you are doing this neck exercise, do not bring up your shoulders. Hold this position for 3 to 5 seconds. Next do this on the left side of the neck and repeat for 5 times.

4. For the last part of the neck stretching exercise you want to stand with you feet shoulder width apart and place your hands behind your head. Bend from side to side, making sure to bend only with the upper back area and not with the waist or hips. Try to reach the upper elbow to the ceiling. Hold each movement for 3-5 seconds. Now do the same thing with the left side.
5. Standing with your feet apart shoulder length, clasp your hands behind your back, and pull downward toward the floor with your hands. Take a deep breath in and stand on your toes and look at the ceiling while exerting the downward pull. Hold this stance for 3-5 seconds, then exhale slowly. Relax and repeat 5 times.


How to Treat a Muscle Spasm with Ice and Biofreeze

Muscle spasm or muscle tension in the neck or in the lower back? One way to treat this simply at home is to use a combination of ice and Biofreeze, a natural pain relieving Gel. A muslce spasm often feels like a tightness and sometimes it can be painful. I originally wrote this article on ehow.com and now i want to share it on my blog as well. In this particular blog I am talkinga about treating a muscle spasm in the neck region specifically. I have also given you ideas for your lower back region as well. Here is what you will need:

Step by Step Instructions for treating your muscle spasm:

  1. Make sure your 6 x 20 ice pack has been in your freezer for at least 4 hours.
  2. Take your ice pack out of the freezer and wrap your ice pack in the towel
  3. Put one glove on and squeeze a small amount of biofreeze from the tube onto your finger.
  4. Apply to your neck. Start from the top of your neck in the back (just under your hairline in the back) and start to massage in small circular strokes. First do the right side, then the left side. From top to the base of the neck. Keep your head in a neutral position.
  5. After you have a massaged for about 1.5 minutes on each side, apply the ice pack that has been wrapped around the towel. Apply this ice pack right around your neck, allowing the ice pack to hang from your upper shoulders. Relax, sit (or lie down face down) like for 10-15 minutes.

It is a good idea to have someone else do this for you, but this is not always possible. BioFreeze Natural Pain Relieving Gel is odorless, and greaseless but you don't want your fingers tingling afterwards. Wearing a glove will also save you a step from having to wash your hands (you can concentrate fully on your neck pain or lower back pain)
Also, It is a good idea to keep your ice pack in a seperate plastic bag so that it does not pick up the freezer odors. You want to get a 6 x 20 ice pack because this will fit nicely around your neck or a 10 x 12 ice pack for your lower back region.

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New Study Shows How Strength Training Helps with Chronic Neck Pain

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - New research suggests that strength training may ease chronic neck and shoulder pain, a problem that has grown increasingly common as people spend more time on computers.

Neck and shoulder pain commonly stems from the upper trapezius muscle, which spans the upper back and shoulders, and helps move the neck.
Diagram of the Trapezius MuslceRepeatedly performing "monotonous" tasks, such as computer operations or assembly-line work, can cause the muscle to become tight and tender.

The current study included 48 Danish women with chronic trapezius pain, most of whom spent much of their workday in front of a computer. Researchers randomly assigned the women to either perform supervised strengthening exercises or aerobic exercise, or to get general health counseling.

For 10 weeks, women in the strength-training group worked out their neck and shoulder muscles using hand weights, three times per week for 20 minutes. Women in the aerobic-exercise groups worked out on a stationary bike.

After 10 weeks, women who strength-trained showed a 70 percent to 80 percent decrease in their pain ratings from the beginning of the study. In contrast, those who got aerobic exercise often felt better in the couple hours afterward, but there was no long-term pain improvement.

The findings are published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism.

The results suggest that specific exercises targeting sore neck and shoulder muscles can bring more pain relief than general exercise, according to lead researcher Dr. Lars L. Andersen, of the National Research Centre for Working Environment in Copenhagen.

Strength training itself boosts the metabolism of protein in muscle, he told Reuters Health, and this might help repair painful muscle tissue. In addition, stronger muscles can bear more of a workload, which might help prevent pain from developing.

Neck pain can have various sources, including arthritis and chronic headaches. According to Andersen, tightness and tenderness across the upper back and shoulders are clues that the pain stems from the trapezius.

The strength exercises used in the study were simple, standard ones for the shoulders and upper back -- like slowly shrugging the shoulders while holding a weight in each hand, arms extended by the sides of the body. So they can be performed at home, Andersen said.Simple Exercise for the Trapezius Muscles

Some people with chronic neck pain may want to get the help of a physical therapist to start, he noted, but that's up to the individual.

As reported by Amy Norton.
SOURCE: Arthritis & Rheumatism, January 15, 2008.

Another great tool to work out trigger points in the trapezius muscle is to use the HealthyNeck System.It has 5 special contact points for your neck that you can use to decrease tension and reduce trigger points. You can use it by yourself, or with a partner.

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The Best Care for Neck Pain Sufferers: A 7 Yr Study

February 2008- a seven-year, international study published finds that some alternative therapies such as acupuncture, neck manipulation and massage are better choices for managing most common neck pain than many current practices. Also included in the short-list of best options for relief are exercises, education, neck mobilization, low level laser therapy and pain relievers.

Therapies such as neck collars and ultrasound are not recommended. The study found that corticosteroid injections and surgery should only be considered if there is associated pain, weakness or numbness in the arm, fracture or serious disease.

The Bone and Joint Decade 2000-2010 Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders 236 page review of the current research on neck pain is published in the journal Spine. The multi-national and inter-disciplinary study team included Canadian, American, South American, Australasian and European researchers. The Task Force was created to help neck pain sufferers and health professionals use the best research evidence to prevent, diagnose and manage neck pain.

"Neck pain is not a trivial condition for many people," says Task Force president Dr. Scott Haldeman, clinical professor, department of neurology at the University of California, Irvine; and adjunct professor, department of epidemiology University of California Los Angeles. "It can be associated with headaches, arm and upper back pain and depression. Whether it arises from sports injuries, car collisions, workplace issues or stress, it can be incapacitating. Understanding the best way to diagnose and manage this problem is of high importance for those who are suffering and for those who manage and pay for its care."

The study found that neck pain is a widespread experience that is a persistent and recurrent condition for the majority of sufferers. It is disabling for approximately two out of every 20 people who experience neck pain and affects their ability to carry on with daily activities says the Task Force.

A key recommendation of the Task Force is that neck pain, including whiplash-related pain, be classified and treated in a common system of 4 grades:

Grade 1: neck pain with little or no interference with daily activities
Grade 2: neck pain that limits daily activities
Grade 3: neck pain accompanied by radiculopathy ("pinched nerve" -- pain weakness and/or numbness in the arm)
Grade 4: neck pain with serious pathology, such as tumor, fracture, infection, or systemic disease.

"The majority of neck pain falls into Grades 1 or 2," says Task Force member, Dr. Linda Carroll, Associate Professor, School of Public Health at the University of Alberta, and Associated Scientist, Alberta Centre for Injury Control and Research (ACICR). "Many sufferers manage to carry on with their daily activities. Others find their pain interferes with their ability to carry out daily chores, participate in favorite activities or be effective at work. For these people, the evidence shows there are a relatively small number of therapies that provide some relief for a while, but there is no one best option for everyone."

In addition to its comprehensive review of the existing body of research on neck pain, the Task Force also initiated a new study into the association between chiropractic care of the neck and stroke. This innovative piece of research found that patients who visit a chiropractor are no more likely to experience a stroke than are patients who visit their family physician. The study concludes that this type of stroke commonly begins with neck pain and/or headache which causes the patient to seek care from their chiropractor or family physician before the stroke fully develops.

"This type of stroke is extremely rare and has been known to occur spontaneously or after ordinary neck movements such as looking up at the sky or shoulder-checking when backing up a car," noted the study's lead author, Dr. David Cassidy, professor of epidemiology at the University of Toronto and senior scientist at the University Health Network at Toronto Western Hospital.

For the minority of neck pain sufferers who experience Grade 3 neck pain -- that is neck pain accompanied by pain, weakness and/or numbness in the arm, also referred to as a "pinched nerve", corticosteroid injections may provide temporary relief says the study. Surgery is a last resort according to the findings and should only be considered if accompanying arm pain is persistent or if the person is experiencing Grade 4 pain due to serious injury or systemic disease.

Top findings for neck pain suffers:

  • Stay active as you can, exercise and reduce mental stress.
  • expect to find a single "cause" for your neck pain.
  • Be cautious of treatments that make "big" claims for relief of neck pain.
  • Trying a variety of therapies or combinations of therapies may be needed to find relief -- see the therapies for which the Task Force found evidence of benefits.
  • Once you have experienced neck pain, it may come back or remain persistent.
  • Lengthy treatment is not associated with greater improvements; you should see improvement after 2-4 weeks, if the treatment is the right one for you.
  • There is relatively little research on what does or does not prevent neck pain; ergonomics, cervical pillows, postural improvements etc. may or may not help.

"This is an important body of research that will help to improve the quality of patient care by incorporating the best evidence into practice and patient education," says Dr. Carroll. "Neck pain can be a stubborn problem -- we hope this comprehensive analysis of the evidence will help both sufferers and health care providers better manage this widespread complaint."

SOURCE: Angela M. Kargus for The Bone and Joint Decade Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders Contact info: +1-757-253-1676

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Choosing the Right Neck Pillow based on your Needs and Pain

Do you have neck pain? Stiff neck? Numbness and Tingling in the arms? Do you travel a lot? Are you a petite framed person? Well today i am going to tell you how to choose the right neck pillow based on your needs. There are many different kinds of pillows online and it can be very disheartening to choose the perfect one. Here are some Criteria to Consider:

  1. Do you do a lot of traveling? If you are one of those people who are putting a lot of miles on frequent flier program, you may want to consider a travel pillow. A travel neck pillow is often U shaped. It can used while you are sitting waiting for your airplane, or sitting on the airplane. A good travel neck pillow will now allow you to sleep upright without straining your neck to the side or going back wards. Arc4life carries a wonderful U Shaped Memory Foam Pillow- it will become your companion on those long airplane trips!
  2. Do you have mild-moderate neck pain and need a support while sleeping? There are many cervical pillows online that are perfect for support. Often these pillows will have an indentation in the middle of the neck pillow and wings on the side- allowing you to sleep on your side or on your back. For a good support neck pillow check out Arc4life's Linear Gravity Neck Pillow
  3. Do you have a "military neck"? This is a diagnosis in the neck- what it means is the a cervical spine is straight and not curved in a "c" position like a normal neck curve. This is often seen on a lateral cervical x-ray. In this case, a traction neck pillow will be a good choice for you. Althought this type of a neck pillow can take a while to get used to, providing that extra stretch in your neck will give your neck the traction it needs to be in the proper cervical lordosis, thereby giving your neck pain relief. The Cervical traction Neck Pillow is a great traction neck pillow that is dr recommended.
  4. Are you buying a pillow based on your frame? Are you 4'11 and petite framed individual? Or perhaps you are a 6'2 college football player. Either way, the average medium sized neck pillow is not going to be a good fit for you. There are good support neck pillows on the market today that come in a variety of sizes. The Linear Gravity Neck Pillow comes in 3 sizes- small, medium and large. The small size pillow is perfect for people who are of height 5'0" or less and the large linear gravity is good for people over 6'0. This is a good support pillow that can be used by side and back sleepers.
  5. Are you looking for a particular filling for your pillow? Are you allergic to fiber or foam and are looking for a specific all natural filling? Buckwheat neck pillows have become very popular. The natural filling of this kind of pillow has some advantages over conventional fiberfill, foam, or feather fillings. The most important quality for the relief of pain is that the material conforms to the exact contours of the head and neck providing support. This means that you have the same amount of support in all areas minimizing the stress on all areas of support. Other filling materials which compress, try to recover their original shape and this puts stress on the muscles of the neck. Other advantages of the buckwheat hull filling are the "cool in the summer, warm in the winter" insulating properties, the ability to adjust the size to your individual needs by removing or adding back filler so the pillow fits you just right. Check out www.OriginalBuckWheatPillows.com for more information.
  6. Are you looking for a pillow for headache relief? A neck pillow specially geared for relief of headaches must be one that targets the cervical paraspinal and suboccipital muscles of your neck. Also, if the pillow has an element of cold therapy that will make it ideal for a headache pillow as well. The Headache Ice Pillo can be used to target migraine and tension headaches. It allows you to use medically recommended cold pack for those acute painful conditions or gives your muscles a chance to relax.

Source: Ehow Article by Arc4life- How to Choose the Right Neck Pillow

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March 2008: The Healthy Back and Neck ENewsletter

The Healthy Back and Neck eNewsletter is for people who want to live a healthy lifestyle. Arcticles about neck pain and low back pain to help people live optimally as possible. Includes inspiration stories and Information provided about the best neck and low back pain supports and products. Tips on maintaining a proper posture. Here is a snippet from March 2008:
Article - New Study Explains How To Keep Hunger In Check Plus: Important Warning About Caffeine And Miscarriage Risk

Good gosh. I just ate. So… why am I still hungry? And why am I so darned hungry all the time?

Ever ask yourself those questions? Sure you have. Because we ALL have.

Fact of the matter is: almost everyone, at some time in there life, struggles with the “why am I so hungry all the time” issue.

Well… what if science figured out what types of foods made you hungry… and… what types of foods actually curbed your appetite – would you be interested?

Well, guess what?

It looks like they have!

What Keeps Hunger In Check

Reuters reported on January 18, 2008 that U.S. researchers are now offering new insights into how diets work.

According to the study, diets high in protein may be the best way to keep hunger in check.

They found that protein does the best job at keeping a specific hormone in check, while carbohydrates and fats did not fare nearly as well.

The study, which will appear in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, looked at the effectiveness of different nutrients at suppressing ghrelin, a hormone secreted by the stomach that stimulates appetite.

"Suppression of ghrelin is one of the ways that you lose your appetite as you begin to eat and become sated," said Dr. David Cummings of the University of Washington in Seattle, who worked on the study.

The researchers gave 16 people three different beverages, each with varying levels of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

They took blood samples before the first beverage, then every 20 minutes for six hours afterward, measuring ghrelin levels in each sample.

Fat Still A “No-No!”

Many popular diets say it’s okay to eat decent amounts of fat. The interesting thing about this study is that it found fats suppressed ghrelin “quite poorly” and that they fared the poorest overall.
"Proteins were the best suppressor of ghrelin in terms of the combination of the depth and duration of suppression," Cummings said.

"That is truly satisfying because high proteins are essentially common to almost all of the popular diets.”

Yo-Yo Sugar Effect

They also found that eating carbohydrates resulted in strong ghrelin suppression at first, but ghrelin levels rebounded with a vengeance, rising to an even higher level.

This shows what many have surmised for a long time: That carbohydrates can make you hungrier in the long run. Which also answers the question – why am I so hungry even though I just ate so darned much?

Cummings said the findings may aid in future research on the effectiveness of different diets.
Clearly eating carbohydrates (like a bowl of ice cream) right before bed every night is NOT the best idea!

Now, here’s something different everyone should know about…

Caffeine’s Shocking Effect

On Miscarriage Rates

According to a new study, pregnant women who drink two or more cups of coffee a day have twice the risk of having a miscarriage as those who avoid caffeine.

For quite some time, there has been a debate as to whether caffeine affects miscarriage rates or not.

Researchers are saying this study may finally put that debate to rest.

They said the study provides strong evidence that 200 milligrams of caffeine per day or more significantly increases the risk of miscarriage.

This was considered a high dose of caffeine… but in reality… 200 milligrams is the equivalent of only 2 cups of coffee.

No Coffee For At Least 3 Months

"Women who are pregnant or are actively seeking to become pregnant should stop drinking coffee for three months or hopefully throughout pregnancy," said Dr. De-Kun Li of Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, whose study appears in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

There have already been several studies done but none were conclusive. One problem was women often stopped drinking coffee during the study because it made them nauseous.

This skewed the results. But this time the study was designed to rule out that variable and finally get a more definitive answer.

Their study involved 1,063 pregnant women who were members of the Kaiser Permanente health plan in San Francisco from October 1996 through October 1998. Women in the group never changed their caffeine consumption during pregnancy.
...Click here to finish reading March 2008 Newsletter

March 2008

-In this Issue-
  1. Article - New Study Explains How To Keep Hunger In Check Plus: Important Warning About Caffeine And Miscarriage Risk
  2. Inspirational quote- Unfair Advantage and Strange Coincidences
  3. Health Tip of the month- Do You Have “Supernatural Powers”?
  4. Testimonial of the month - The Cervical Traction Neck Pillow- For effective neck pain relief of the neck for better sleep
  5. Featured product -The HealthyNeck System- For muscle spasm and trigger points

Newsletter Archives

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Our Cervical Traction Neck Pillow makes it to Banglore India!!!!

Well, It took approximately 21 days to get there via the Trusted Post Office. We love when we can help someone with neck pain all the way to India.
I ordered the neck pillow as i have chronic muscle spasms and my x-ray is identical to the image on the little booklet that came with the pillow. I received the traction pillow yesterday and tried it last night. I found it extremely comfortable and had no issues falling asleep. i worked out in the gym yesterday and usually the day after im in a lot of pain i have had this problem for nearly a year now and have found no relief other than maybe using emu oil and NSAID's. I had a pleasant nights sleep and when i woke up i didn't feel any discomfort or stiffness. It really works and i dont think i'll ever want to part with it. I want to order 2 more for people with the similar problem in my family.Thanks

Faiz Rezwan, 03/01/2008 Banglore, India

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Counting Sheep to Fall Asleep...Does it work

Experts agree that the time-honored practice of counting sheep or doing another such monotonous task may help induce sleep. Sleep specialists provide these additional tips to help you reach dreamland:

  • Avoid caffeine (including caffeine-containing drugs), nicotine, and alcohol for four to six hours before bedtime. The first two are stimulants that can make it difficult to sleep. And while alcohol may have a sedating effect at first, it tends to disturb sleep after several hours.
  • Don't exercise within four to six hours of bedtime. Working out earlier in the day, though, can actually improve sleep.
  • Perform relaxing rituals before bed, such as taking a warm bath, listening to relaxing music, or eating a light snack.
  • Before going to bed, try as much as possible to put your worries out of your mind and plan to address them another time.
  • Reserve your bed for sleeping. To preserve the association between bed and slumber, don't watch television or do work in bed.
  • Go to bed only when sleepy. If you can't fall asleep within 15 to 20 minutes, get out of bed and read a book or do another relaxing activity for a while, rather than trying harder to fall asleep.
  • Make sure your bed is comfortable and the bedroom is conducive to restful sleep - quiet and at a comfortable temperature, for example.
  • Wake up about the same time every day, even on weekends, to normalize the sleep-wake schedule.
  • Don't take naps, or nap during the mid-afternoon for no more than 30 minutes.


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