We’ve all had neck pain at some point in our lives. From cradling a phone between our shoulder and ear, to poor posture or sleeping in an odd position, neck pain is no fun. The pain and stiffness that accompanies an aching neck can also lead to pain in the shoulders, upper back and arms.
For some, neck pain may be caused by things not under your control such as age-related wear and tear or triggered by arthritis or degenerative disc disease.
Whatever may be the cause there are things you can do starting today to alleviate neck pain easing up on the discomfort it brings:
· Make ergonomic adjustments. Many of us work on computers. Position the computer monitor to be at eye level so as not to strain your neck looking awkwardly up or down. When talking on a phone, use the hands-free function or wear a headset freeing up your hands. Laptops should be propped up on a pillow sitting at a 45-degree angle instead lying flat on your lap.
· Practice good posture. Pretend there is a string at the top of your head and someone is pulling up on it towards the sky – this will automatically make you lift up your chin instead of it dropping towards your chest putting a strain on your neck. Stand up straight and tall bringing your shoulders up, back and then down to properly align the body.
· Get up and move around. Throughout the day, make it a habit to not be in one position for any length of time. This prevents your neck from being stuck in an awkward position causing undue strain.
· Check your eyewear prescription. If you are struggling to read by having to lean your head forward straining your neck, it’s time to renew your eyewear prescription.
· Be aware of your sleeping position. Anyone who has ever woke up to discover they slept in a bad position during the night and now your neck is paying the price, you know it’s not going to be a good day. It can be a literal “pain in the neck” to look from side to side when this has happened. Eventually, the neck pain will go away on its own but it may take all day if not a couple of days or more. Here are some tips for preventing a bad neck strain during the night:
· Avoid using a pillow that is too high or overly stuffed. This keeps the neck flexed at an odd angle all night resulting in morning pain and stiffness.
· By the same token, don’t sleep with too many pillows raising the neck to be out of line with the rest of the body.
· Side sleepers should keep their spine straight by using a pillow that is higher under the neck than the head.
· Feather pillows tend to conform better to the shape of one’s neck. However, they do flatten over time and will need to be replaced about every year.
· Try using a memory-foam pillow that conforms to the contour of your head and neck.
· When traveling in a car, plane, train, or even reclining watching TV, use a horseshoe-shaped pillow supporting your neck to prevent your head from dropping to one side.
· Our neck needs exercise. Just like the rest of our body, our neck will benefit from getting a workout. The muscles within the neck that do their job of holding up our head need to be stretched and strengthened to improve the neck’s range of motion.