Neck pain is an extremely common problem. In fact, about 13% of adults in the US are estimated to experience neck issues. This pain can be due to disc degeneration, muscle soreness, trauma, or you may just wake up in the morning with a stiff neck for no apparent reason. We’re going to look at 10 ways you can cope with neck pain without having to reach for a pain reliever.
#1. Change the Way You Carry Your Bag
A purse or a briefcase can be a terrible strain on the neck, especially if you are really weighed down on one side of the body. To relief this issue, you definitely want to minimize how much you carry in your bag. Consider a bag that distributes the weight in an even way such as a backpack or a crossbody bag. If you have to use a shoulder bag, shorten the strap and carry it as high as you can so it doesn’t throw off your center of gravity as much.
#2. Drink More Water
The discs that keep the vertebrae from rubbing against one another are mostly made of water. This means that keeping yourself properly hydrated is an important part of protecting your spine. Since the recommended amount of water intake is a minimum of 64 ounces per day, how can you maintain a proper routine? One recommendation is to download a hydration reminder app for your smartphone. You can set it to provide you with reminders at regular intervals throughout the day. Get a glass of water each time the app reminds you. If the previous glass is still sitting on your desk, chug that one down real quick before you go pour the next eight ounces.
#3. Exercise Regularly
Strengthening your core is good for your spine as a whole, but there are also exercises you can do to strengthen the muscles that support the neck. The goal is to strengthen the muscles that will keep your head properly aligned over your shoulders. As we will see later, a forward head position is terrible for your neck.
#4. Use Speakerphone or a Headset
Never hold the phone between your ear and your shoulder. Even if you only stay in this position for a few minutes at a time, you are straining the soft tissue of the neck, and it is sure to lead to chronic pain. Most phones have a speaker option if you need your hands free. If you need to have private conversations, you may need to invest in a headset.
#5. Avoid Text Neck
Technology has changed the way people use the neck. Craning it forward to check a smartphone dozens of times per day is brutal on the cervical spine. The head already weighs about 12 pounds, but if you lean your head forward at a 60-degree angle to check a smartphone or other device in your lap, resting on a table, or held at waist level, then you are putting about 60 pounds of pressure on the neck. That can lead to misalignments and all sorts of other issues that contribute to neck pain. Managing technology use is vital for someone suffering from neck pain.
#6. Keep Monitors at Eye Level
If you work at a desk, your set up is important. Monitors that are below eye level are going to keep your head leaning forward all day long. While you may not have it at the same angle as when you check your phone, even a slight incline for hours each day will increase strain on the neck significantly.
#7. Change Your Sleep Position
Sleeping on your back is best for your neck. Just don’t prop your head up too much. If you must sleep on your side, use a firmer pillow so the natural curve of the neck is maintained. Stomach sleepers are the most likely to suffer from neck pain. You can’t breathe facedown on a pillow and turning the neck to one side all night is going to have a major impact on the structures of the neck.
#8. Maintain Proper Posture
We’ve addressed posture in a number of these points, but that is because it is one of the key components to getting rid of neck pain. Think about your habits such as mobile device usage and how you hold the phone when you are on a call. Pay attention to your posture while driving and even when you relax on the couch. You may need the help of a posture corrector if you have gotten to the point where poor posture feels natural.
#9. Try Upper Cervical Chiropractic
What is this niche in the chiropractic field? Upper cervical chiropractic focuses on the top two bones of the neck. Practitioners use modern diagnostic imaging techniques to pinpoint misalignments and then gentle corrections are provided. There’s no popping or twisting of the neck. We find that gentle corrections hold longer and give your body the time it needs to heal.
If you are suffering from neck pain, you can benefit from implementing the suggestions in this article. However, if there is already a misalignment working against you, upper cervical chiropractic care can give you the help you need. You may even find that proper posture feels more natural once your atlas (C1 vertebra) is in proper alignment. To learn more, schedule a no-obligation consultation today.