The bones in your neck connect to tendons and ligaments. A neck sprain is a stretch or tear in one of these tissues, usually caused by turning or extending the neck too suddenly or too far. Neck sprains can cause pain, tension and tingling sensations in the neck and shoulders, limited range of motion and headaches. Always consult your physician regarding exercise regimens after experiencing any kind of neck strain.
During the first days after a neck sprain, you should move your neck as gently and slowly as possible. Your doctor may suggest ice, massage and cautious stretching for the area to relieve inflammation and relax the muscles, which often tighten painfully in response to injury. This period of extra caution may last a few days or several weeks, depending on the severity of your injury, and you should not use a treadmill until your injury has begun to heal. Talk to your doctor about how long you should rest your neck before returning to a regular exercise program.
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Resuming exercise after a neck sprain can be a tricky undertaking, because movement tends to make the pain worse. Jarring or shaking movements are often particularly painful. Jogging or running on a treadmill are high-impact forms of exercise that can aggravate neck injuries instead of helping them heal. When you first begin using a treadmill again after an injury, walk briskly instead of jogging and ensure that your head and spine are properly aligned.
Before you begin exercising on the treadmill, stretch your neck gently for approximately five minutes. Loosen and relax the muscles so that they are pliable and able to absorb the shock from your motion. Taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication can help with this as well. Wear high-quality walking or running shoes that are designed to absorb the impact of the exercise. When you finish your workout, apply a heat pack to your neck to stop the muscles from tightening up.
The neck is a sensitive and delicate piece of machinery that protects your spinal cord and supports your head. Even minor injuries to the neck warrant extra care and caution, because worsening a neck injury can cause trauma to the nervous system. Do not use a treadmill until your doctor gives you permission, and follow his instructions regarding stretches and exercises. If using the treadmill hurts your neck or you experience headaches, shoulder tension, tingling in your arms or numbness in your hands afterward, consult your doctor before exercising again.