I threw my neck shoveling!
Yes, you read it correctly. It is not a back injury, but a neck injury. The mechanism is the same, but I wanted to address neck pain in this article. The fact is, you can strain any muscle or joint by doing just about any activity.
In this example, a patient of ours was shoveling snow and turned his head while lifting the shovel to dump some snow to the side. He mentioned that he was careful with his back: he bent his knees, he used his thigh as a point of support, he did not lift too heavy a load, etc. But when he turned his head to the right, he immediately felt his muscles on the right side of his neck, from the back and side of his head to his upper back, sixteen up. Said it felt like a big spasm or cramp.
We have seen this many times before, the same can happen in the lower back or also in the leg. People can sometimes describe it as a “Charlie horse” feeling. So why can this happen when doing an activity that you wouldn’t think would cause it?
The answer is this: sometimes a muscle or joint is about to become irritated. Say, for example, you spent hours on your computer the night before the snowstorm; your neck was tight afterwards, but it seemed to disappear. Then you went to bed and got up early to shovel. Half asleep, while everyone was still in bed, you put on your jacket, hat and gloves, faced the cold and started shoveling.
In the example above you can see how probably the shovel neck was still sore from the night before (it may have gotten worse while sleeping as well), then without warming up the muscles a bit (taking a shower or stretching a bit would have made a great difference), or even drink some water (this helps to hydrate the body, obviously, in this case the muscles and joints, helping to prevent injuries). In this case, the individual is likely to hit the body a bit, go out into the cold, and begin to do a fair amount of physical activity.
Now I’m not saying that doing this or anything similar will cause a neck or back injury, and I know that most of us have been guilty of that in the past. However, if one is in the habit of doing these kinds of things often, he can and will eventually hurt himself. I’m going to give you some tips that you can use to heal your neck once you force it, but keep in mind that the real goal is to prevent it from happening. Believe me, I have seen people who have tried so hard or restricted themselves time and time again, that their neck is to the point where it does not heal as easily or quickly. So, as you can probably guess, my first step in curing a sprained neck is preventing it in the first place.
Healing a neck sprain / strain:
1. Try to avoid it and avoid it. This especially applies to those of us who have injured our necks before and have an idea of the cause.
2. Improve or correct the alignment of the spine. To do this, consult a chiropractor, osteopath, or someone who does it professionally. A massage often helps because a good massage can help relax the muscles and ligaments, allowing the spine to return to its place.
3. Use natural therapies first. Heat and Ice are easy to make, they cost nothing, and you can use them at any time. Actually, a prescription muscle relaxant is rarely needed.
4. Begin gentle neck stretches once you begin to feel better. This will help lengthen the muscles, undoing muscle adhesions and preventing future stresses. The most commonly necessary stretch is the lateral head tilt. Slowly bring one ear to your shoulder until you feel a stretch; Hold for 10-20 seconds, relax and repeat.
5. Home muscle massage. Use your fingertips to find those tight spots to massage. You will find that it is often a “good pain” type of feeling. Once you have a massage or spinal alignment, you will have a better idea of how it feels.
6. Use a cervical pillow to sleep. This also helps relax the muscles by helping to align the spine. It can and should also be used as one of the neck pain prevention methods.
There you go! The next time you stretch your neck or feel like a spasm is about to start, use the tips above. My best recommendation is to use the list above for neck spine prevention or maintenance, if you like. We’ve all heard it before, but I’ll say it again: Prevention is better than cure!