Neck pain is prevalent within our society and its often the side effect of our day-to-day habits. Every day we spend an exuberant time texting, sitting, and sleeping, Which creates an imbalance in our body’s skeletal structure and strains our necks. This results in bad posture and pain in the neck. Yet, it doesn’t have to be this way. With just a few changes to your sleeping, texting, and workplace habits you could reduce neck pain tremendously. Here are 6 tips for neck pain relief and prevention.
Change your sleeping position
When you sleep, it is essential to maintain the neck and spine’s natural alignment. For most, sleeping on your back can reduce neck pain because of how it allows the spine to rest in a natural position. Alternatively, you can sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs to support your body’s natural alignment. You can also sleep on your back with pillows under your arms to reduce any strain on the neck.
Replace your pillow
The right pillow can make you more comfortable in any position you choose to sleep in. For example, if you sleep on your side, try a pillow that matches the distance between your shoulder and neck so that your head, neck, and spine are aligned naturally. And, for back sleepers, try a smaller or even flat pillow. An orthopedic pillow, that provides more support for the neck may also help reduce neck pain. Some people even find sleeping at an incline helps, so they use an adjustable bed or prop their bed up by wedging a pillow under their mattress. When sleeping at an incline you may want to also use a small and flat pillow. As a general rule of thumb for any pillow and any sleep position, you don’t want your chin pointed towards your chest, as if you’re you are looking down.
Remodel your work station.
If you happen to have a desk job, your work station could be aggravating your neck and causing pain. Often times, poor setup of a work station can eventually cause pain or aggravate pre-existing pain in the neck. To fix this, make sure your eyes are parallel with your computer monitor. There should be minimal head movement and you shouldn’t be looking up or down at your computer screen. When seated, do not slouch and keep your thighs and feet parallel to the ground.
Avoid straining the neck when texting
We live in a digital world, and cellphones are what keep us connected. It’s easy to use for hours on end and can become a pain in the neck, literally. Often when texting, people peer down at their phones and tilt their head forward. This creates a strain on the neck. The average head is 8 – 12 pounds but the strain on the neck when looking down can place up to 60 pounds of force on the neck. The neck isn’t meant to support that much weight for extended periods of time. To avoid straining the neck when texting, simply raise the phone to eye level and minimize time spent on the phone.
Stretch your neck
A common reason people experience neck pain is that the muscles in their neck are simply too weak or too tense. For a weak neck, stretching a few times a day can make the neck stronger to prevent it from becoming strained. For a tense neck, stretching can make the neck more limber and relieve tension and pain. Two easy stretches you can do anywhere are the neck release and the clasping neck stretch.
This can be done while seated or standing. Now keep your right arm at your side and place the left hand atop of your head. Slowly tilt your head to the left so that your ear approaches your shoulder. Apply gentle pressure with your left hand to deepen the stretch and hold this for 30 seconds before slowly lifting your head up. Then repeat this for the other side.
Clasping Neck Stretch
This is a deep stretch that starts with you seated or standing with proper posture. Clasp your hands and place them on the back of your head. Apply pressure with your hands and slowly pull the head down until the chin is tucked into your chest. Maintain proper posture. While still pulling down, also pull your head gently away from your shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds and slowly lift head into upright position.
In our day to day lives it’s easy to get whisked away in our work and activities and, often times, drinking water isn’t high on our priority list. However, the discs between the vertebrae in your neck consist mostly of water and have a sponge-like structure. Staying hydrated will keep your spinal discs strong and flexible.