Yoga reduces neck pain caused by prolonged desk work and academic stress

Is schoolwork or your job being a literal pain in the neck? A Korean study recommends taking up yoga to manage the pain without resorting to pain-relieving drugs, an article in Science Direct stated.

Sitting in front of a desk for long periods of time is bad for the neck. So is moving your head around on a constant basis to vainly keep track of your professor or boss as they walk back and forth while talking. You may also be so tired after a long day of hitting the books that you just dropped onto the bed without bothering to assume a comfortable posture before sleeping.

No matter the reason, the end result is still the same: a stiff neck that hurts at the slightest movement you take. This hampers your ability to perform important everyday tasks like driving a car.

Most people plagued with a painful neck take pain relief medication such as acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). But these pharmaceuticals come with side effects when they are used in large amounts for long periods of time. (Related: Yoga reduces pain in people with chronic non-specific lower back pain.)

Improving neck pain with an eight-step yogic exercise

A study supported by Kangwon National University (KNU) conducted a study to see if yogic exercises could alleviate neck pain in any way. Participants were drawn from the university due to their proximity and convenient availability.

The test group eventually consisted of 38 students who experienced neck pain from due to stress and schoolwork. Twenty of them were assigned to a control group that would not receive any treatment. The remaining 18 were placed in a yogic exercise group.

Twice a week, the members of the yoga group practiced a neck exercise drawn from yogic teachings. The exercise was comprised of eight simple steps.

A participant would start in a relaxed state. Then they would flex their necks, extend their neck, perform right and left lateral flexions of their neck, rotate their neck to the right before rotating to the opposite side. The exercise concluded with a return to the relaxed state before it was repeated.

Each yoga session lasted for one whole hour. The yoga group continued this biweekly exercise for eight weeks.

The members of both groups were evaluated for neck pain before and after the yogic exercise. To measure the intensity of the pain during pretesting and post-testing, the KNU research team used a visual analog scale set for 100 millimeters.

The study showed that the participants who undertook yogic exercises experienced much less neck pain when compared with their control group counterparts. The author of the study, Sang Dol Kim, concluded that yogic exercises were effective in treating neck pain experienced by university students.

Easy yoga stretches that help with neck pain

For those who worry that yoga is difficult to get into, an article in PaleoHacks discussed easy yoga stretches. The sequences were selected for their ease of use and ability to relieve neck pain.

There are two important things to remember when you perform any of these yogic stretches. First, it is recommended to move slowly and gently when you are stretching your neck. It is not only safer to take your time, but it also makes the routine much more effective.

Second, remember to breathe as deep as you can during each stretch. Yoga places great importance upon proper breathing to unwind tense muscles.

Interested in taking up yoga as a means of pain and stress relief? You can learn more about it at

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