An image of a man suffering from neck pain

Neck Pain – A common cause and how Osteopathy can help


The short answer is yes, we may be able to assist you with your stiff, sore neck. One of the most common conditions we see at Holistic Bodyworks in South Oakleigh is a postural strain that is characterised by neck pain or stiffness with or without associated headaches.


How is this neck pain caused?

Predominately this is caused by poor posture, prolonged desk work or phone use and a lack of strength and stability through the upper/middle back and shoulder muscles.


Why is it called a Postural strain?

Postural strains are also known as Upper Crossed Syndrome, which is characterised by;

1. tight and shortened:

  • upper trapezius
  • levator scapulae
  • pectoralis major/minor muscles

2. lengthened and often weak:

  • sub-occipitals
  • deep cervical flexors
  • lower trapezius
  • serratus anterior

This combination causes;

  • rounded, flexed shoulders
  • an increased curve of the upper back
  • a forward head posture

which results in extra stress through the shoulder joint, thoracic and cervical spine.


How does this contribute to our stiffness or neck pain?

Over time, this posture can cause tension, impingement or compression. Additionally the already overloaded and tight cervical extensors are required to increase their workload to provide stability, which can lead to an increase in muscle and myofascial tension through the shoulders and neck causing a referral or pain into the head.

If left untreated, other than headaches this can lead to other conditions such as:

  • Migraines
  • Shoulder instability
  • Rotator cuff injuries
  • Bicep tendinopathy


How do Osteopaths and Myotherapists treat a postural strain?


Both Osteopathy and Myotherapy may assist with Upper Crossed Syndrome by helping reduce muscle and myofascial tension, increasing movement through restricted joints and providing stretching and strengthening exercises to begin the process of improving the posture.


What can you do?


Things to take note of are:

  • How is your desk set up at work?
  • Is your screen too high or too low?
  • Is your chair adjustable and at the right height?
  • Do you spend a long time looking down at your keyboard or phone?

But, the most important thing about long hours at a computer is to make sure you have regular breaks every hour or so. Handy tip – set an alarm or put a post it note on your screen!

Try and go for a walk when ever you can, for example get a glass of water, collect papers from the printer or even stand up and stretch through your chest and shoulders, every little bit helps!

For some helpful stretches view our post on Neck Stretches and the Thoracic Towel Stretch.


If you are experiencing stiffness, muscle tension or pain or would like to know more on how we may be able to assist you, contact the clinic today to make an appointment or book online with one of our friendly and experienced Osteopaths or Myotherapists for an assessment.