If a pinched nerve in your neck has been plaguing you and making some of your daily activities difficult or painful, your first instinct might be to take it easy and rest. While this can help for short periods of time, in most cases it is also extremely important to stay active when you’re managing a pinched nerve so that your body stays strong and limber. Too little activity can actually cause the muscles in your cervical spine (neck) to weaken, which can lead to stiffness and additional neck pain down the road.
Pinched Nerve Exercises for Neck Pain
Always talk to your doctor before integrating any exercises into your treatment regimen for a pinched cervical nerve. Not only should you get an accurate diagnosis to make sure that a pinched nerve is the true cause of your discomfort, but you should also work with your doctor to determine whether you should begin physical therapy or simply modify the exercise routine you’ve grown accustomed to. The exercises or stretches recommended by your doctor will likely depend on your current lifestyle and how active you were prior to your diagnosis, but some of the most common suggestions for staying fit as you deal with a pinched nerve include:
- Switching from high-impact activities like jogging and kickboxing to low-impact activities like walking, biking, swimming, and elliptical training
- Supplementing your exercise regimen with restorative yoga or light stretching
- Working with a physical therapist to increase muscle strength and range-of-motion
- Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to mitigate pain and swelling as you exercise
- Applying heat therapy prior to exercise and ice therapy after exercise, to increase circulation and reduce inflammation, respectively
How Exercise Helps Neck Pain
In addition to helping your muscles stay strong, exercise plays a variety of other roles in managing the symptoms that can often be associated with a pinched nerve in the neck. Exercise increases blood circulation, which may speed the healing process if a nerve is being pinched by injured or inflamed tissue. Physical activity also releases endorphins, which are your body’s natural painkillers.
No matter your age or general lifestyle, it’s never too late to become active and lead a healthier life, especially when dealing with a degenerative condition like a pinched nerve in the neck.