Ten tips to help you avoid or address the causes of neck pain
12 July 2016
Neck pain can be triggered by trauma, such as a whiplash injury, but they can also occur for no apparent reason at all. Muscle strains and spasms may be caused by an underlying problem such as arthritis, disc degeneration or dysfunctional joint mobility. Whether you’ve just woken up with a stiff neck, or your neck pain is due to a chronic condition, the following tips should help you reduce the pain.
1. Try a new pillow
It may seem obvious but pillows aren’t a one size fits all. Some people find their neck pain decreases when they lie on their back with a relatively flat pillow. For others a special orthopaedic pillow with a curved surface and depression for the head is more comfortable. Ask yourchiropractor for advice on pillows that are best for you.
2. Check your sleeping position
In general, sleeping on your back is the best position to let your entire spine rest comfortably. However, if you prefer to sleep on your side, make sure your pillow is not too high, usually around 4 inches thick depending on the density of the pillow. Ensure the distance between the neck and point of the shoulder is not compressed. If it feels comfortable, it’s a good fit!
3. Make sure your computer is at eye level
Sitting at your desk, make sure your eyes are level with the upper section of your monitor, if you find you are looking down, you need to adjust the monitor height. Laptops are culprits for making people look down and strain the back of the neck. Again try and prop the laptop up and keep the screen level with your eyes.
4. Avoid TEXT NECK
Texting and looking down at your mobile phone for any length of time places undue stress on your neck muscles and joints. Over time the excessive stress on joints, ligaments and tendons can lead to premature degeneration to the neck. Try to text less, raise the phone up and stop looking down, take regular breaks, and stretch the neck muscles out frequently.
5. Use a headset
If you use the phone a lot; try to avoid tilting your head to one side or cradling the phone on your neck. Any type of hands free device is a great option to stop you holding your phone incorrectly.
6. Exercise and stretch the neck
Keep your neck strong by completing short sets of stretching and strengthening exercises. Simple routines include dropping your ear to each shoulder in turn and holding for 10 seconds, and tucking your chin backwards to stretch the back of the neck.
7. Stay hydrated
Drinking water has lots of health benefits, but is especially good for spinal health, as it keeps the discs between your joints nourished and hydrated. Keep a water bottle with you and sip as the day goes on, drink a glass of water every two hours, drink two large glasses of water with every meal. It’s easy if you try!
8. Carry weight evenly
We Chiropractors often see people carrying heavy bags on one side of their body. This uneven loading on the shoulders puts a strain on your neck muscles. We suggest removing anything unnecessary from your bag, or consider a small backpack that evenly distributes weight across both shoulders.
9. Maintain proper posture
This is a key factor in neck pain. Poor posture can cause neck pain by straining muscles and ligaments that support the neck, resulting in injury over time. The head and shoulders forward posture is a common example, often seen in desk based workers and teenagers. With every inch the head shifts forwards, an extra 10 pounds in weight is added to the muscles of the neck and upper back!!
10. See a Chiropractor
Last but not least! Neck pain is often a sign of an underlying problem or weakness. Your chiropractor is trained to identify the cause of the pain and offer treatment, support and advice to stop the pain and keep it from returning. So if your neck pain is becoming a real ‘pain in the neck’ make an appointment now.