Do your neck and shoulders ache? Not long ago, you would have been told to rest, maybe use a neck brace, and wait until the pain had ebbed away. Doctors have changed their song about the best treatment for neck and shoulder pain. They now recommend movement instead of rest.
As described in Neck and Shoulder Pain, a newly updated Special Health Report from Harvard Health Publishing, there is mounting scientific evidence for the role of stretching and muscle strengthening in treating people with neck and shoulder pain. After a whiplash injury, for example, people heal sooner and are less likely to develop chronic pain if they start gentle exercise as soon as possible. For those with long-term pain (called chronic pain), results from controlled studies show that exercise provides some relief.
One review of the research found that exercise programs to stretch and strengthen either the neck alone or the neck plus the shoulders and the trunk improve pain in the short and long term compared with standard treatment with pain relief medication. Other studies support strengthening, stretching, and general physical activity. But exactly how much exercise to do, what types are best, and how often it should be done have yet to be determined. That uncertainty might explain why, despite the evidence favoring the role of exercise in relieving neck and shoulder pain, fewer than half of people who see a health professional for these problems are prescribed exercise as part of their treatment plan.
If you’re interested in using exercise to help relieve neck or shoulder pain, make sure to see your doctor for evaluation. Ask if you can get help from a physical therapist or other professional who can create an individualized exercise program based on your pain severity, limitation of movement, and current strength. The program should have clearly stated goals and include stretching and strengthening exercises, as well as exercises to improve how you use your neck muscles.
Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren’
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. Jeremiah 29:12 NIV
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12 NIV
And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Matthew 6:7 NIV
The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. Psalm 145:18 NIV
‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ Jeremiah 33:3 NIV
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20 NIV
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16 NIV
who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:6 NIV
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