Exercising your Abdominals: A Pain in the Neck?

How often do you go to a gym and watch someone do 100 sit ups with their head behind their neck, yanking it with each attempt to throw themselves upward to a seated position. There is a natural tendency to do this since it helps you lift up and the tendency will increase as your abs get tired. However, the push on your head will strain the muscles in the neck. This type of a motion can cause injury to the neck. There are 2 main reasons why people do sit ups incorrectly. Doing sit ups incorrectly causes you to pull your muscles forward, thus engaging the small muscles of the neck. These muscles in turn get fatigued and therefore people often pull on their neck while doing ab exercises. Another reason people hurt their neck is that do not have good exercise technique. Here are three ways to make sure you are not injuring your neck while doing theses import abdominal exercises which are very important for overall health.

  • Place your fingers behind your ears, instead of clasping your hands behind your head. This will allow you to assist slightly when your neck fatigues, but prevent you from actually pulling on your head.
  • Avoid jutting your head forward by keeping it in neutral position as you lift your head, neck and shoulders in unison. This will prevent excessive flexion of the cervical spine and reduce positional muscle imbalances.
  • Place your tongue flat on the roof of your mouth behind your front teeth during abdominal movements performed while lying on your back. This practice has been taught to thousands of exercise professionals by certified neuromuscular therapist and industry leader Paul Chek. It is purported to engage the strap muscles in the front of the neck to assist in the movement while preventing biomechanical stress on the cervical spine.
    By following these simple tips during your abdominal training you'll keep your neck and upper spine healthy and be able to focus more on hitting those stomach muscles intensely. Then you can have a 6-pack with no neck pain !

Visit us at Arc4life.Read more about: Stretching and Strengthing Exercises for the Neck


Simple Exercises to Combat Neck Pain and Tension in the Shoulders

Many people have desk jobs where they are hunched over their desk, with their shoulders hunched up looking over paperwork. Often they come home with neck pain and suffer daily. They have muscle spasms in their neck, upper back and shoulders.
A couple of months ago, Denmark's National Research Centre for the Working Environment, released the results of their study into what really helps people with tense shoulders.
The researchers asked volunteers to exercise (cycling), or do exercises aimed at the trapezius muscles.

Others were told not to change their behaviour.
The strength exercises below are what worked. Do them three times per week - the routine takes under five minutes - and like the volunteers in the study, your neck pain should be reduced by an enormous 80%.

When you are doing these exercises, you should keep your knees slightly bent throughout the movements. You should use dumbbells of 2-5 lbs (if you don't have dumbells use a bottle of water or a can of vegetables). You should repeat until your muscles are exhausted which should happen at some point between 8-12 repetitions. When the weight becomes easy, move onto a heavier one.
Here is the exercise routine:
● Shrug. Hold your arms at the sides, holding weights and palms facing in. Keeping your arms straight, pull shoulders up to your ears, pause for a second and lower.
● Bend forward so your chest faces the floor, arms hanging down, palms facing inwards to each other holding weights. With elbows slightly bent, squeeze shoulder blades and raise arms to your sides, parallel to the floor. Hold in this position, pause and then lower.
● Stand with your palms in front of thighs and facing legs. Bend your elbows to the sides and pull weights up to about collarbone level. Pause, then lower.

Visit Arc4life to learn stretching and strengthening neck exercises

Image Source: Janet Travell, MD and David Simons, MD text "Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual. volume 1


The Right Neck Pillow after a Car Accident....

Arc4life receives a lot of questions from our customers everyday. Our most popular question: Which neck pillow do you recommend for me? Many of our customers that order one of our neck pillows are in chronic pain, usually from one or more motor vehicle accidents. A motor vehicle accident can cause pain in the neck for long term, especially if it not treated properly right away.

In this month of June, we received two emails about our cervical traction neck pillow that we would like to share with you today. You can see how even after multiple car accidents you can still find the right pillow.
sleeping on your back with the cervical traction neck pillow

"I want to shout out loud for the joyful pain-free mornings I'm having since ordering the cervical traction pillow! Injured in a near fatal car accident over 20 years ago...the pain in my neck had increasingly worsened. Each day I'd awake with the sensation that the weight of something like a bowling ball was on my head pushing my neck down between my shoulder blades. I hurt nearly round the clock. I've tried every neck pillow known to man. I honestly thought there was just nothing out there to provide relief. The day I found your blog, I'd awakened that morning and literally prayed, God, if there is a pillow out there to help me...WHERE IS IT???!!!! Then, that very afternoon...I found IT! I had relief from the first moment I laid down on it, and every morning since. If you're reading this note and can't decide whether or not to spend the money for a pillow...let me admonish you--GET IT!! It is going to shock and amaze you as it makes your neck pain a distant memory. No joke. I am so very glad I found this.."- M.K, 06/08/2008

sleeping on your back with the cervical traction neck pillow

"I Received my Cervial Traction Neck Pillow 4 days after ordering and I live in Hawaii...superior personal customer service. I have had 2 cervical surgeries (auto accident) with a titanium cage from C4-7 mounted on C8. With limited head movement there has never been a pillow that protects my head long enough to get a nights sleep. As a last resort, I researched neck pillows and found Arc4life. After ten years of neck, head and shoulder pain, I can honestly say that I am pain free all day and look forward to going to bed and getting up in the morning....one of the first things that was obvious to me is my corrected posture and neck strength.....I never imagined that a pillow could make an entire difference in my life and health.....and for that reason, I am passing your web site to everyone I know along with this testimonial.....it is not only my miracle pillow, but a prevential aid for anyone who has neck discomfort due to accident or aging. By the way, the pillow worked for me the minute I laid my head on it.....A big MAHALO (thank you) for your excellent product and service." - Eileen. K, 06/23/2008
P.S. A very special thank you to NJ, you were so informative, patient , professional and a delight to talk to.

Visit us at Arc4life.com


Multiple Car Accidents can cause major changes in the neck

Have you been involved in multiple in car accidents? Have you had multiple incidences of whiplash in your neck?
Whiplash Motion that occurs
with an Motor Vehicle Accident

whiplash motion during a car accident A recent study shows that persistent whiplash motions can cause changes in kinesthestic sense and motor control in the neck. However, the evidence is still inconclusive particularly for differences between whiplash patients and patients with chronic traumatic neck pain.

The aim of this study was to investigate motor control deficits in Whiplash patients and compare them with chronic non-traumatic neck pain and healthy controls in relation to cervical range of motion (ROM), conjunct motion, joint position error and ROM-variability.

This study involved three different groups: 59 patients with persistent whiplash associated disorderss (WAD), 57 patients with chronic non-traumatic neck pain and 57 asymptomatic volunteers.

A 3D motion tracking system (Fastrak) was used to record maximal range of motion in the three cardinal planes of the cervical spine (sagittal, frontal and horizontal), and concurrent motion in the two associated cardinal planes relative to each primary plane were used to express conjunct motion. Joint position error was registered as the difference in head positions before and after cervical rotations.

The results of this study showed decreased conjunct motion found for WAD and chronic neck pain patients compared to asymptomatic subjects. This was most evident during cervical rotation.

Reduced conjunct motion was not explained by current pain or by range of motion in the primary plane. Total conjunct motion during primary rotation was 13.9 degrees (95 % CI; 12.2-15.6) for the WAD group, 17.9 degrees (95 % CI; 16.1-19.6) for the chronic neck pain group and 25.9 degrees (95 % CI; 23.7-28.1) for the asymptomatic group.

As expected, maximal cervical range of motion was significantly reduced among the WAD patients compared to both control groups. No group differences were found in maximal ROM-variability or joint position error.

Conclusions: Altered movement patterns in the cervical spine were found for both pain groups, indicating changes in motor control strategies.

The changes were not related to a history of neck trauma, nor to current pain, but more likely due to long-lasting pain. No group differences were found for kinaesthetic sense.

In other words, whiplash type injuries can cause lasting effects in your neck reducing the normal motion especially the ability to turn your head!

Author: Source: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2008, 9:90, Author: Astrid Woodhouse and Ottar Vasseljen


What your Sleeping Postion Reveals about your Personality and Health

Getting your 8 hours of sleep is very important- and everyone has their unique positon that they sleep in. Scientists believe the position a person sleeps in reveals something about their personality. Prof Chris Idzikowski, director of the United Kingdom Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service researched and analysed 6 common sleeping positions - and found that each is linked to a particular personality type and that some positions are better for health than others.Different Sleeping Positions

  • Foetus Position- Those who curl up in the foetus position
    These people are described as tough on the outside but sensitive at heart. They may be shy when they first meet somebody, but soon relax. This Fetal position of sleeping is adopted by 41% of the 1,000 people who took part in the survey, and is the most common. It is also common in twice as many women than men.
  • Log Position- Lying on your side with both arms down by your side
    These sleepers are easy going, social people who like being part of the in-crowd, and who are trusting of strangers. These log sleeping people may be gullible as well.
  • Yearner Position- People who sleep on their side with both arms out in front
    These people are said to have an open nature, but can be suspicious and cynical. They are slow to make up their minds, but once they have taken a decision, they are unlikely ever to change it.
  • Soldier Position- Lying on your back with both arms pinned to your sides.
    People who sleep in this position are generally quiet and reserved. They don't like a fuss and they have high standards for themselves. The study showed that this positions is likely to lead to snoring while you sleep and caused a bad night of sleep.
  • Freefall Position- Lying on your front with your hands around the pillow, and your head turned to one side.
    These people have a personality towards being gregarious and brash, but can be nervy and thin-skinned underneath. They dislike criticism, or extreme situations. Professor Idzikowski concluded that the freefall position was good for digestion.
  • Starfish Position- Lying on your back with both arms up around the pillow.
    These sleepers make good friends because they are always ready to listen to others, and offer help when needed. They generally don't like to be the centre of attention. The study also showed that the starfish positions can make you snore more and therefore lead to bad night of sleep.

Professor Idzikowski said "Lying down flat means that stomach contents can more readily be worked back up into the mouth, while those who lie on their back may end up snoring and breathing less well during the night. "Both these postures may not necessarily awaken the sleeper but could cause a less refreshing night's sleep."

Finally, The research showed that most people are unlikely to change their sleeping position. Just 5% said they sleep in a different position every night.


Travel Neck Pillow- The Key to sitting at the Airport

Recently, one of my good friends was coming back from a wedding in Chicago. Well lo and behold, his airplane got delayed because of thunderstorms in the NorthEast. He spent a whopping 10 long hours in the Chicago Airport- 3 of those hours were stuck on the airplane. I cannot even imagine what he went through. He was tired, grumpy and stressed when he finally got back home. It made me think about how to prepare for the far away trip that sometimes never seems to end. Having a comfortable travel neck pillow can make a big difference.

A good travel neck pillow is often shaped in the form of a "U". It is lightweight, supportive, easy to travel with and comfortable around your neck. Often times, a travel neck pillow can be composed of a foam, polyester fiber or gel like material. You don't want your travel pillow to be too soft because it will not give you the proper cervical support. Sitting in an airport is not like lounging around in your family room. You are sometimes awkwardly seated in between two people and you have to the make the most of your surroundings. A good travel pillow will keep your head and neck firmly supported, preventing them from unnecessarily moving side-to-side, bending back, or flopping off whenever you doze off to sleep.

Aside from using your travel pillow for travel, this special u shaped neck pillow can also be used if you have some type of a cosmetic procedure and you need to be seated so that your body can heal. For example: eye lid surgery, face lift, nose surgery, liposuction...you get the idea.

U shaped Memory Travel Neck Pillow. Travel Pillows for the Airplane Trip

  • Dimensions: rounded, diameter 10 Inches
  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Color: Black
  • Material: 100% viscoelastic memory foam
  • Benefits of this Travel Pillow: Helps support the head and neck so you can comfortably relax, Special U shape provides comfort for special sleeping or resting needs, Use it it at home or when travelling, memory foam responds to body heat to better conform to the unique shape of your head and neck.
  • Cost: $35.99
  • Shipping: $7.50
  • Shipping Method: UPS Ground
  • For Ordering information: Click here

There are many other types of Travel neck pillows available- ones created just for headache sufferers that include a cold gel pack, buckwheat ones, fiber ones, etc. Check out Arc4life's Travel Neck Pillows for more selection. Until next post, hope everyone has a comfortable journey next time they are waiting at the airport. - N.J.


Study Shows that Chronic Neck Pain can be Relieved with Strength Training

Neck pain affects everybody- it causes lost time from work, family and fun. Today I want to share a new study that came out in January 2008 that shows that specific strength training exercises can lead to significant prolonged relief of neck muscle pain, while general fitness training resulted in only a small amount of pain reduction. This study was completed on a group of women.

The Study was completed by two scientists: Gisela Sjøgaard and Lars L. Andersen of the National Research Centre for the Working Environment in Copenhagen, Denmark. Researchers conducted a randomized controlled trial for which they recruited 94 women from 7 workplaces in Copenhagen between September 2005 and March 2006. The women were asked to do specific work related tasks such as typing and desk work. The work consisted of assembly line work and office work, with 79 percent of the participants using a keyboard for more than three-quarters of their working time.

Trapezius Muscle
Participants first answered a questionnaire about their pain and then underwent a clinical exam to confirm a diagnosis of trapezius myalgia (muscle pain in the trapezius muscle, which extends along the back of the neck). Participants were assigned to three intervention groups: those who did supervised specific strength training (SST) exercises for the neck and shoulder muscles, those who did high-intensity general fitness training (GFT) on a bicycle ergometer, and a control group that received health counseling but no physical training. Both exercise groups worked out for 20 minutes three times a week for 10 weeks.

The results showed that the GFT group showed a small decrease in neck muscle pain only immediately after exercise, while the SST group showed a marked decrease in pain over a prolonged training period and with a lasting effect after the training ended. "Thus specific strength training locally of the neck and shoulder muscles is the most beneficial treatment in women with chronic neck muscle pain," the researchers state.

The neck pain study also showed that the reduction in pain occurred gradually in the SST group, with trapezius muscle pain gradually decreasing as muscle strength increased. Although the GFT decreased the pain only temporarily, the authors note that even minor decreases in pain may be enough motivation to overcome barriers to exercise, and the resulting increase in fitness may benefit overall long-term health.

The authors state that the marked reduction in pain in the SST group is of "major clinical importance." They concluded: "Based on the present results, supervised high-intensity dynamic strength training of the painful muscle 3 times a week for 20 minutes should be recommended in the treatment of trapezius myalgia."

Reference: "Effect of Two Contrasting Types of Physical Exercise on Chronic Neck Muscle Pain," Lars L. Andersen, Michael Kjær, Karen Søgaard, Lone Hansen, Ann I. Kryger, Gisela Sjøgaard, Arthritis Care & Research, January 2008; 59:1; pp. 84-91.


Review for the Cervical Traction Neck Pillow

Courtesy of the Great Reviewer on Associated Content: Cervical Traction Neck Pillow Review

Cervical Linear Traction Neck Pillow is indeed quite a confusing product as it has given me mixed results. I think different people sleep differently and there is quite a deal of mixed reviews regarding this product. I am impressed by the superior design and the material used for its construction. Let us look into the design aspects of this pillow. The special "V" shape in this Cervical Linear Traction Neck Pillow ensures your head and neck are supported properly. Proper support is vital to induce sleep into the body. We get irregular sleeping hours owing to the various postures we take while sleeping. A proper posture cannot be attained suddenly. We need some external assistance to achieve it. Cervical Linear Traction Neck Pillow fills this void wonderfully.

As our spine is aligned in the best natural way possible, it gives you enormous comfort and it enhances your circulation. As the spine is properly supported, the air passes through your nasal cavities with enormous ease. No wonder, this Cervical Linear Traction Neck Pillow gives you reduced snoring. As the muscles get relaxed owing to proper blood flow, the mind too gets relaxed giving you sound sleep. No wonder you feel fresh irrespective of the time, once you lay your head on this Cervical neck pillow.

Initially, I had trouble adjusting my neck to this pillow. I used to turn a lot while sleeping and I found this pillow annoying. In course of time I adjusted to this pillow and to my relief, I have found it to be an amazing product. I never had any chronic pain, but I do believe a correct posture would do overall good to my body. I would suggest you to buy one if you can adjust to this Cervical Linear Traction Neck Pillow. Initially it may trouble you and in some cases you may not even get sleep.

My sincere advice is, buy one of these pillows and adjust yourself. You may not have any chronic pain or any problem whatsoever. You need to experience it, to accept it. I can never tell you in words, how a sound sleep would feel like. Go ahead, buy one of these Cervical Linear Traction Neck Pillows, adapt to it and refresh yourself, day after day. This is a must buy pillow. I am totally satisfied with this product and I would advise each and every one of you to buy one.


Fast And Easy Neck Stretches For Pain Relief

Summary: Dr Bellinger reveals 3 simple and easy neck stretches anyone can do to relieve neck pain and tension. Also included in this article are some tips on other things in addition to neck stretches one can do, and things to avoid, to prevent neck muscle tightness and pain.

In my office I show patients these simple, effective stretches all the time. They will help stretch your neck muscles keeping your neck loose and mobile. This will relieve your neck pain and muscle tension.
Every segment of your spine has motion but when things get stiff and immobile inflammation builds up putting more pressure on the nerves. Strained or irritated muscles can also pull the neck spine out of its normal alignment putting unwanted pressure on nerves. This, of course causes neck pain and other unwanted problems like headaches and tingling into the arms and hands.

  • Stretch #1Lateral Head Tilts. Start by sitting up straight or standing. Slowly tilt one ear toward that same shoulder. Tilt head until you feel a good stretch. Next, hold the stretch for 15 seconds. Then slowly bring head back to straight. Repeat one more times and then do the same to the opposite side.
  • Stretch #2Head Half Circles. Half circles with your neck and head with your head tilted forward and then with your head tilted back. Similar to if you do full head circles rolling your head around to each side, the half circles are much easier to do and are safer. Start by bending your chin down slightly and roll your chin to one shoulder and then the other. Do 5-10 rolls to each side. Next, extend your head back slightly and roll one ear to that shoulder and then roll head toward other shoulder. Again, do 5-10 rolls to each side.
  • Stretch #3Modified Head Tilt. This is a more advanced version of stretch number one. When performing the lateral head tilt neck stretch, reach up with the arm on the side you are tilting towards and apply mild pressure to the head pulling it or stretching it slightly further. For example, if you are tilting your neck and head to the right, use your right hand to pull your head laterally toward your right shoulder.

With all of these stretches you can easily do them whenever you have a free moment, when you feel your neck stiffening up, or when you first awake in the morning. You can really do these stretches as many times as you like. For more stretching information and pictures of the stretches visit Arc4life’s neck exercises and stretches page.
When doing any stretch if you experience more pain, or irritation, simply stop that stretch. With the neck roll stretch, you can do full neck rolls as well. The reason I like half rolls better is because it is slightly easier on the neck.
Of course, if pain or the problems seem to persist or do not improve see your primary doctor or chiropractor.
Some things to avoid that prevent stiff neck are: sleeping on your stomach, and prolonged strenuous positions, such as working on the computer with poor posture for long periods.
Some additional things to do along with a stretching regimen are: see a chiropractor for neck adjustments or manipulations, try neck traction, and use a good neck pillow while sleeping.

Dr Matt Bellinger is a Chiropractor in Connecticut. He has written many articles on how to easily and naturally relieve pain, and has helped hundreds of patients in his clinic end their neck pain and back pain. He recommends specific pain relief and posture improving products at Arc4life.com

Blog Posts Related to Neck Excercises
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