My neck, upper back, and shoulder pain got so bad I suffered from insomnia for almost 2 years.
No matter what I did, the neck pain always seemed to find me. I was sitting down all day at work hunched over a computer. I tried improving my posture. But it didn’t work.
Then I tried getting a standing desk. That only worked for a little bit, and the pain was showing up elsewhere.
I tried buying new mattresses and special tempur-pedic pillows. NOTHING worked. It was quite possibly the most frustrating thing I’ve ever been through in my life.
Later, I learned that I wasn’t alone.
In one study done on office workers, it was found that 58% had eye strain, 45% had shoulder pain, 43% had back pain, 35% had arm pain, and 30% had neck and wrist pain.
Fortunately, I have since healed myself and cured those problems. And I’ll show you how to do it too.
-If You Have Neck and Shoulder Pain, it is NOT a Coincidence
For those of you who already didn’t have a “hunch” that your work posture is causing your pain, a number of studies have shown a strong link between computer use, posture while at work, office ergonomics, sedentary life and chronic musculoskeletal pain.
The two are linked. I’m going to show you how and why they’re linked, and how to fix them.
These are extremely common health issues that occur in people who are sedentary and sit a lot throughout the day. The reason you’re probably getting that burning in your upper back, shoulder pain (or shoulder injuries), elbow/wrist injuries (if you’re a weight lifter), and that dreaded neck pain is because they are all related.
Check out the two pictures below.
One of them instinctively looks more natural and healthy, right?
At it’s most basic level – this is why you’ve got shoulder and neck pain.
Check out the 60 sec video below where I’ll give you the rundown.
- Misaligned shoulders that are typically hunched, which lead to:
- A misaligned neck (sticking out forward), which leads to:
- Tremendous strain on the neck muscles, which leads to:
- Chronic pain, build up of tension, potential other long term effects (possible headaches, etc.)
Here’s what your upper body (neck, spine, shoulders) is supposed to look like (left):
Here’s what it probably looks like when you’re on the computer or sitting:
He looks happy, but he won’t be happy when his back and neck are killing him later tonight!
-Here’s what that does to your neck and shoulders:
Your head is actually pretty heavy. Somewhere in the ballpark of 10 pounds. Now try doing this: Hold a 10 pound weight straight above your head. Its pretty easy right?
Now hold your arm out at a 45 degree angle. Extremely tiring right? You can feel the muscles in your arm getting exhausted trying to hold the weight up against gravity.
That’s what’s happening to your misaligned neck. It is trying to fight gravity using the muscles in the neck.
Also, misalignment causes nerve impingement, reduced blood flow, and a whole bunch of others things we probably don’t know about.
Then you end up with super stressed out, tight, overactive neck muscles like the Sternocleidomastoid (try saying that 5 times fast…):
The same is true of your shoulder.
When you use your shoulders in a hunched over pattern, you are impairing how they naturally are supposed to glide through their ball and socket motion.
As a result, you get grinding, popping, and overuse injuries – like carpal tunnel syndrome, burning between your shoulder blades, rotator cuff injuries (if you’re active), etc.
-The 3 Part System to Fix Your Neck And Shoulder Pain
Here’s the way I fixed most of my neck pain and how you can, too.
It’s a three part system:
- Egoscue Exercises
- Trigger Point Therapy
- Learn How to Actually Sit Pain Free And Use Your Body (or else it’ll come back)
-Part 1: Egoscue Exercises For Neck and Shoulder Pain
The Egoscue method works for everything I have tried it on.
Chronic lower back pain, neck pain, knee pain, it always provides relief. So let’s start with that.
If you’re sitting over your computer like a hunched caveman, your neck is grossly out of alignment.
The point of these Egoscue exercises is to let gravity re-align your neck and back.
WHY: This is getting your neck, upper back, and hips re-aligned using the wall.
-How to do it:
- Scoot your butt as close to the wall as possible like in the picture above
- Make sure the back of your head is touching the wall, and pull your shoulder blades back, so they are flat against the wall
- Put your hands face up in your lap
- Pull your toes back – so they are flexed
- Hold for 5 minutes
-How to do it:
- Lay down on your back like in the picture above – and scoot your butt as close to the wall as possible
- Flex your feet back so they are pulled tight
- Pull your shoulder blades back, so they are flat on the floor
- Let your hands rest, palm up at a 45 degree angle
- Hold for 5 minutes
-How to do it:
- Lay flat on your back, and put your legs up at a 90 degree angle on a chair, couch, or object
- Roll your shoulder blades back so they are flat on the ground, and let your arms fall naturally at a 45 degree angle
- Hold for 15 minutes
-Part 2: Trigger Point Therapy
The next thing you should be doing on a daily basis is employing trigger point therapy.
I either use a theracane, a foam roller, or a tennis ball/golf ball.
We’re all familiar with “tension” held in our backs or necks from sitting all day. Trigger points are basically tension on steroids. They happen at localized places, which is good, because we know where to find them and eliminate them.
Sometimes the site of the pain is not the source though – and referral pain can radiate much farther away.
So you might have trigger points in your upper back causing you neck pain or worsening headaches, and you might have butt trigger points causing lower back pain.
-So, here’s what to do for self-massage:
I want you to massage three places (don’t worry, there are videos for each):
- Trapezius & Levator Scapulae
gain, when you’re employing trigger point therapy it’s important that you massage these places hard, and you do it several times per day (the more, the better – they recommend 6-12 times).
So every hour at work, I would spend 5 minutes going through these 3 quick videos and doing a massage session.
I either use a theracane, a foam roller, or a tennis ball/golf ball. You can also just use your fingers for places like the Sternocleidomastoid.
And again, you can use your fingers, a massaging cane, or when you’re home just grab a tennis ball or golf ball and roll your entire body weight over it.
This is critical for day-to-day pain relief.
-Part 3: Pain-Free Posture (How to Sit Without Pain)
Posture is the really un-sexy origin of your pain.
People don’t really like hearing that, because it’s not a magic bullet, but ultimately if you sit properly throughout the day, you won’t have musculoskeletal pain. Pretty much end of story.
Ultimately, all of this will work in the short run… but like all things related to your health, you must change your habits.
I’m going to assume that 90% of you sit all day at work, and often at home after work. So here’s how to maintain proper posture for your neck, shoulders, and upper back.
-First – I would suggest grabbing an ergonomic stand for your laptop if you aren’t already using one.
I personally use this stand for my macbook ==>Rather than looking down at your computer, you want your head to obviously be upright.
If you ignore changing your overall posture throughout the day, you’ll just find the pain coming back and you’ll have to begin from step 1.
- Lower Back
- Upper Back/Shoulders