People of all ages suffer from neck pain on a daily basis. Most neck pain starts due to muscle strain or any other soft tissue strain caused by a sudden force. Another common cause for neck pain is everyday bad habits! Without knowing it, you may be putting strain on your neck and shoulder by the way you perform everyday activities. Neck pain can happen anywhere in your neck, from the bottom of your head to the top of your shoulders. This pain can spread to your upper back or arms limiting how much you can move your head and neck.
Here are some tips to avoid bad habits that can cause you neck and shoulder pain.
- Stretch – Relieve the tension and stiffness in your neck by stretching. Tilt your head from left to right & hold for 20 seconds on each side. Make sure to do this slowly and with smooth movements.
- Set up your workstation correctly – Make sure your computer screen is centered over your keyboard. When working at the computer or at a desk, keep your head balanced directly over your spine as much as possible.
- Increase your magnesium intake - Magnesium is an important mineral that helps contract and relax muscles. You can find magnesium in fruits, vegetables, nuts, peas, beans, soy products and whole grains. Studies have shown magnesium to be helpful with muscle tightness in the neck.
- Take breaks – No matter what you are doing during the day, if you are sitting up for a long period of time, you put additional strain on your neck. Standing up and moving around is always good for your neck pain.
- Sleep position – Make sure you have a supportive pillow that will keep your head in straight alignment with your back when you lie on your back or side. (Avoid sleeping on your stomach.) I suggest purchasing a pillow that can mold around your neck. For example, a soft feather pillow or even a water pillow that allows you to dictate the firmness of their pillow. (The more water equals a firmer pillow; less water provides a softer pillow.)
- Driving – Have your headrest high enough and close enough to catch your head. The position of your seat so that you can sit up straight with your head no more than two to four inches in front of the headrest. The back curve of your skull should meet the cushion of the headrest.
- Talk on speakerphone or purchase a headset. Holding your phone between your neck and shoulder can cause a huge strain in your neck.
- Posture –Whether sitting or standing make sure to keep a good posture. Have your shoulders over your hips and your ears over your shoulders. Lengthen your neck to be as tall as possible.
- Walking – Wear comfortable shoes! Heels can change the alignment of the body leading to a head-thrust-forward position that stresses neck muscles.
- Reading - Hold the book so that you are not leaning forward or down to read it. Avoid reading and lying down. If you must read in bed, sit up straight. You can lie on your side with your neck straight and hold the book in front of you as well.
- Watching TV – Try sitting in front of the television, not to the side. Sit far enough from a TV or movie screen that you can watch without tilting your head back.