Neck pain seems to be one of the most common complaints among my clients. Whether you’re hunched over a work station or slouching over a computer screen, neck stiffness can really be a pain! ;) Here are a few things that can help alleviate and prevent neck discomfort.
1. The most significant change you can make to help ease neck pain is breaking bad posture habits. Make sure your shoulders are down and your head is back (avoiding forward head posture). At first you’ll subconsciously fall back into your old habits, you need to be constantly reminding yourself and adjusting. With time you will re-train the muscles and the correct posture will feel natural.
2. If your job includes a lot of time sitting/standing in the same position, be sure to take frequent breaks. Get up and walk around for a few minutes stretching out those stiff neck muscles as you move.
3. If you work at a computer you can avoid some repetitive strain by making sure the screen is at eye level.
4. Avoid cradling the telephone between your shoulder and ear. Use a headset or speaker phone.
5. Find a pillow that’s right for you. The pillow you use should be thick enough to keep your neck straight. With time and use pillows become thinner and need to be replaced. Check in occasionally to make sure your pillow is still giving you the necessary support.
6. Do not sleep on your stomach. Sleeping on your stomach not only puts your neck in a twisted position for hours at a time, but also strains your lower back.
7. Avoid carrying a heavy bag or purse. Take out any unnecessary items to lessen the weight and alternate between both shoulders.
8. Maintain a healthy body weight. Excess weight can cause biomechanical changes to the shoulders (the supportive base for your neck). This puts added stress and strain on muscles and make you more prone to neck issues.
9. Stretch your neck and chest muscles and strengthen your shoulder and back muscles frequently. With years of poor posture and repetitive strain, muscle imbalances and tension develop. You can counter act this with a few stretches and exercises performed regularly. (Please ask me on your next visit for some specific exercises for you.)
Of course, I cannot end without also adding...
The Foundation for a Healthy Body is Water, Sleep, Diet, Exercise and Stress Management.