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10 Tips To Avoid Neck Pain
Neck pain. We have all had it and know how much it can sideline us when it occurs. This article offers some helpful hacks to solve your neck pain once and for all. Here are the top ten ways to avoid and self- treat neck pain:
- Change out your pillow. This is a SUPER common cause of neck pain. Old pillows, worn out pillows, puffy pillows, too many pillows, etc. all create tension and stress in the neck and upper back causing pain and stiffness. Tip: your pillow should be relative to your shoulders, keeping your head in a neutral position while you sleep and not too flexed in any one direction.
- See your local chiropractor! Chiropractors are GREAT at treating neck pain and headaches. Chiropractors work to restore normal motion to the joints of the neck and upper back, relax the surrounding soft tissues and provide at-home exercises to get you feeling your best. There are many causes for neck pain, so if your pain is persisting for more than a few days it is best to get it checked out by a manual provider to get it resolved.
- Sleep on your back or side. Sleeping on your back or side allows your body to stay in a more neutral position. Avoid sleeping on your stomach as this creates additional strain to your neck and lower back. Tips: make sure the pillow your head is resting on isn’t too puffy; put a pillow between your legs if lying on your side; and lastly try putting a pillow underneath your knees if lying on your back.
- Change out your workstation. I highly recommend sit-stand workstations, but unfortunately they are not feasible for everyone. No matter your workstation, make sure your monitor height is at eye level so you are not looking down while looking at the monitor. If you find that you are looking down (even slightly), elevate your monitor to a height so that you are looking directly at the top 1/3 of the screen. Also, make sure your chair is at the right height so your shoulders and hips are in a good neutral position, and are not too high or low. While sitting, it is helpful to use a small stool to rest your feet on, and while standing it is useful to prop up one foot on a stool. If you are working on a laptop, I recommend getting a Bluetooth keyboard so you can raise up the laptop to a height that allows you to look straight ahead at the monitor while not being forced to hunch your shoulders to the sky in order to type. For more ergonomic tips, check out this website.
- Avoid text neck. This is when you look down to your phone while texting or on social media, which creates a lot of pain and tension in the neck and upper back if done repeatedly over time. Tip: bring your phone up higher to text and troll Facebook so you are looking straight ahead and not down. The same goes with when reading or doing other activities while looking down; you should aim to keep your head as neutral as possible. Unfortunately, often times we can’t avoid these tasks or sustained postures, so taking frequent breaks and stretching your neck, back and shoulders often can help avoid injury.
- Use a headset or go hands-free on the phone. This helps avoid kinking your neck in one direction too long causing pain and stiffness.
- Exercise. Exercise helps improve blood flow and reduces inflammation, which helps with pain and stiffness. Neck specific exercises and stretches are also helpful.
- Carry weight evenly on both shoulders. Make sure that you wear straps on both shoulders when wearing a backpack, or if carrying a purse switch shoulders periodically to even the load. Also, it is a good idea to lighten backpacks and purses as much as possible, or whatever you may be carrying, to avoid straining and prevent problems from occurring in the first place.
- Be aware of your posture. Like your mother once told you- “quit slouching and sit up straight!” The biggest tip though that I find helpful is to MOVE as much as possible. Take frequent breaks and reposition yourself to avoid straining muscles and ligaments, resulting in possible injury over time. Additionally, ensure your head is over your shoulders and not too far forward. For every inch that your head is forward, there is an additional 10 pounds of weight added to the neck and upper back. So if your head is five inches in front of your shoulders, it weighs an additional 50 pounds on top of what it actually weighs. That’s a heavy head! Tip: give yourself a “double chin” and bring your head back over the top of your shoulders frequently throughout the day to avoid the forward head posture.
- Do trigger point work, self massage and see your massage therapist! Soft tissue work helps to alleviate muscle tension and pain, and improves blood flow to the affected area to help heal injured tissues. If you are in the Charlotte area, my favorite LMT is Kayla. Check her out here. She keeps me in check, which says a lot I promise. 🙂
There you have it! The top ten tips to help avoid and treat annoying neck pain. We hope these tips help to get you feeling your best with that pain in your neck becoming a thing of the past.
Author: Courtenay Schroeder, DC
Owner & Chiropractor @ ProMotion Chiropractic
The information and reference guides in this website are intended solely for informational purposes only to promote consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. The contents of this website are not intended to offer personal medical advice, diagnose health problems or for treatment purposes. It is not a substitute for medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. Please consult your health care provider for any questions or advice on any exercise, medication, nutrition or supplementation.