Neck pain is quite literally debilitating. It’s also extremely common. If you look at this piece, it states that 100 million Americans suffer with chronic pain, and 15% experience neck pain. So many body movements come from the neck; turning, looking downward, looking upward, moving from side to side and general gesticulating involves using the neck. So when you have a stiff neck, or you have pain traveling down one side (or sometimes both), it’s excruciating to manage and can even trigger shoulder or back pain to add into the mix. It’s not just physiological, it’s psychologically damaging. There’s the amount of energy it takes to remember not to move your neck when you’re in pain and it’s also depressing to feel such a significant level of discomfort.
Why You Get Neck Pain
There are lots of reasons why you might experience neck pain; mainly it will come from an injury, a strain, a nerve problem or even be stress-related. Sometimes, neck pain comes from not warming up before exercise. Whatever type of pain you experience, any neck pain must be investigated by a medical professional especially if it does not subside after a week.
So What Can You Do To Alleviate Neck Tension?
Most people instantly reach for painkillers when experiencing neck pain, paracetamol or ibuprofen being the most popular types for comfort. However, before you reach for your bottle of pills, there are other methods to help reduce discomfort.
These can help to loosen up tightness. Here are a few stretches to try.
Neck Stretch 1
Start by facing front, then turn your neck to one side, slowly and return your head back to the front. Repeat ten times. Then, do the same for the other side of your head, stretching your neck as far as it will go, without worsening your pain.
Neck stretch 2
Look ahead. Then drop your head so your chin rests at the base of your neck. Gently raise your head back up to your starting point, repeat this ten times.
Neck stretch 3
Look ahead. Then drop your head so the back of it rests at the base of the back of your neck. Gently raise your head back into position, repeat this ten times.
Neck stretch 4
Look head. Take your right hand over your head so it is resting on your left ear. Gently pull your neck toward the right hand side and then push it back into position. Repeat ten times and then do the same on the other side, using your opposite hand. Repeat ten times.
The other way to reduce tension in your neck is to visit a masseuse who specialises in deep tissue for back, neck and shoulders. They may even want to massage your head; it’s connected to your neck after all! Explain to your masseuse the type of pain you’re experiencing, especially if it is localised to one area. The therapist will work hard on that area to reduce knots and to ease inflammation. Hopefully, one or two sessions will be all you need to get yourself out of pain.
Every wondered if your pillow could be hampering your neck? If you find yourself regularly experiencing neck pain, you might have to dig deeper to try and find the reason why. Perhaps your pillow could do with an overhaul? If you’ve had it for a number of years, the chances are it’s misshapen and won’t be doing you any favours. You need something that will give you good support when you sleep. Choose a medium to firm pillow or better still, by a Tempur pillow as it moulds itself to your head and neck.
Posture & Sitting Problems
One of the biggest reasons why people experience neck pain regularly is posture. This is especially true if you sit at your desk all day, looking at a screen. Your neck, spine and shoulders won’t be aligned properly so you need to make sure you always stretch your neck before sitting and after you’ve sat for a long period of time. Next, sit with your bottom to the back of your chair and straighten your spine. Lift your head upward and don’t push it forward. Drop your shoulders and remember this position (it’s difficult when you’re used to old habits).
Don’t stay at your desk for hours on end. At least once an hour, get up, walk around, stretch that neck and move your muscles.
Check your chair, is it supportive? Is it comfortable? Is it positioned at the right height for your desk and computer use? It’s amazing how many people don’t pay attention to this and then wonder why they experience constant neck pain. If you use a laptop all day, even if you curl up on your sofa with it balancing on your legs, the chances are you’ll be pushing your neck forward and downward to look at your screen. This is going to put extra strain on your neck.
Another culprit is the use of mobile phones and tablets. Constantly bending your neck to see what text message has popped up on screen will do your neck significant damage in the long run. Try and limit how long you spend doing this.
When you stand up, be sure to drop your shoulders and straighten your spine. Hold your head up slightly so you’re looking straight ahead. Don’t drop your head or look upward; by doing either of those, you’re putting extra strain on your neck. Let your spine lengthen and push your shoulders back just a little to expand and open up your chest.
Hopefully these ideas will help to get you out of neck pain, but, as with any pain, if it continues, it’s best to seek advice from a medical specialist.