“There are two types of pain in this world. Pain that hurts you and pain that changes you.”
Most of us at some point have woken up with neck pain or can recall an event or injury that resulted in neck pain. At any given time, around 13% of American adults suffer from neck pain.
Usually, the neck pain arises from muscles, ligaments and tendons —commonly referred to as the soft tissues—in and around the cervical spine or the neck. The muscle strain and resulting muscle spasm is caused by an underlying neck problem, such as arthritis, spinal stenosis or disc degeneration which can be triggered from trauma or other identifiable reasons.
Whether your neck pain is due to a chronic condition or if you’ve just woken up with a stiff neck, here are 10 best tips to prevent neck pain.
Tips to Prevent Neck Pain
1. Try a new pillow.
Try a new pillow in terms of comfort and support for your neck while you sleep. Check out the various options available and with the trial and error method, find out the best one that works for you. As a general rule, it is best to use a pillow that keeps your cervical spine in neutral alignment that means one which supports and maintains the natural curve of your neck.
2. Sleep on your back if you can.
In general, sleeping on your back is the best position to let your entire spine rest comfortably. People with neck problems find that sleeping on their back helps them to deal with it. Placing a pillow under each arm, will support each arm thereby takes the strain off the neck. The bottom line is if it is not comfortable, it is not a good fit.
3. Make sure your computer monitor is at eye level.
Sit comfortably in front of your computer and close your eyes. When you open them, your gaze should be directly in the middle of the computer screen. Prop up your monitor if you find you have to look down, so that it is higher and at eye level.
4. Avoid neck strain from texting.
Texting or looking down at your cell phone or mobile device for long hours will put excessive strain on your neck. Over a time, the added stress on the joints, ligaments, and discs in your neck can lead to premature degenerative changes in your neck. Raise the phone or mobile device to eye level, minimize texting time, rest your hands and device on a pillow, and take frequent breaks to avoid the neck strain due to texting.
5. Use a headset.
If you spend a lot of time on the phone, make sure to avoid tilting your head to the side or cradling your phone in the crook of your neck. Use a hands-free device, such as a headset or ear piece to talk on the phone without being tempted to hold your phone incorrectly.
6. Exercise and stretch your neck.
Perform short sets of strengthening and stretching exercises throughout the day to keep your neck muscles strong. One of the simplest exercises to do is the chin tuck exercise which helps to strengthen the muscles which pull the head into alignment over the shoulders and stretches the scalene and suboccipital muscles.
7. Stay well hydrated.
A significant reason to drink lots of water during the day is that it nourishes and hydrates the discs—the spongy structures that lie between the vertebrae in your neck. As these discs are made up of mostly water, hence staying well hydrated will help keep keeping them pliable and strong. Ideally, drink at least 8 large glasses of water a day.
8. Carry weight evenly.
A common mistake people make is carrying a heavy purse or briefcase on one side of their body. This uneven load can affect your shoulders causing them to become uneven and strain your neck muscles. Try to lighten your load by taking only your essentials in your purse or briefcase, and make efforts to keep your shoulders level at all times when you carry it. Consider using a backpack which distributes the weight evenly across both of your shoulders.
9. Maintain supportive posture.
Poor posture can cause neck pain by straining the muscles and ligaments which support the neck, which will result to injury over time.
10. Relieve trigger-point pain.
Irritation to the facet joints of the lower cervical vertebrae in the neck can result in muscle trigger point pains. The trigger points are small knots in the muscle or fascia— a layer of tissue under the skin and around the muscle leading to pain. Certain massages can help for these trigger points and lessen the pain.
Bonus tip: Put your phone away.
Most of us don’t realize the time we spend looking down at our phone with our head and neck in a flexed forward position which puts a great deal of added stress on the bones, joints, and ligaments in your neck. Putting your phone away, or holding it in a way which keeps the neck aligned on top of the shoulders, is one of the simplest and best changes to help the neck.
I hope the above tips will help you to reduce and prevent neck pain.