Neck pain can be, well, a pain in the neck. Most times, neck pain isn’t serious, but it sure is unpleasant. If you want to get rid of your neck pain for good, check out our five strategies for prevention and relief!
Remember that neck pain is typically caused by bad posture and unnatural positions, including at the office, in bed and at the gym. However, if you’re experiencing a fever, nausea and/or a tingling sensation in your arms, consult a doctor immediately. In addition, you should go to the emergency room if your neck pain is a result of an injury, or if it’s accompanied by any heart attack symptoms.
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of neck pain relief!
- Sign up for Tai Chi
The first thing you should do for lasting relief from neck pain is sign up for Tai Chi. It may not be obvious, but Tai Chi is extremely good for your neck. Specifically, Tai Chi involves a series of slow, continuous movements. It’s considered low-impact and the non-stop motion will keep your neck muscles and joints relaxed instead of tensed. Overall, Tai Chi boosts flexibility, strength and posture in your neck. Its mind-body approach also reduces stress and makes it less likely that you tense your muscles. Tai Chi has been shown in studies to give neck pain suffers immediate relief. One of the best aspects of Tai Chi is that it’s good exercise at every stage of your life. Since it’s low-impact, seniors can also benefit from Tai Chi.
Exercise is a key element to reduce neck pain in the long-run. Be sure to make time during your day for Tai Chi or yoga to get the stretching and strengthening you need to keep your neck healthy. Also, remember that weight lifting and heavy lifting in general is a bad idea if you’re experiencing neck pain. Skip the barbells until you’re neck is back to normal.
- Try ice-heat therapy
Ice-heat therapy never fails. If you’re in pain and want quick relief, ice-heat will help your muscles relax. First start with a cold compress for a few days and then switch to a hot compress (or a hot shower) afterwards. This will ease stiffness in your muscles and allow them to recover.
- Make your spaces posture-friendly
Neck pain is commonly caused by bad posture. One of the best ways to prevent neck pain is to make sure your spaces are comfortable. Here are some tips to make your common spaces posture-friendly:
- At the office: Your workstation should be comfortable and well-adjusted. Check that your chair is set at the right level so your feet are flat on the floor. Be sure to sit all the way back in your chair to avoid leaning forward, slouching or poking out your chin. In addition, your computer screen should be at eye level and your keyboard in easy reach. If you wear glasses, make sure you have updated lenses so that you don’t lean in to see better. If you talk on the phone at work, use a headset instead of cradling a phone using your shoulder. Finally, analyze your habits at work. You should be taking regular breaks to stretch your legs. Also, it’s important to keep your stress levels low, since stress can cause muscular tension in your neck.
- In bed: Your sleeping space and position is key to preventing neck pain. Make sure your mattress is both firm and comfortable. You should also use a neck pillow for support so your body stays in alignment as you sleep. In addition, try to sleep on your back or your side, which provide a healthier position for neck stiffness.
- At the gym: Neck pain can also happen because of your workout habits. When at the gym, make sure you’re using equipment correctly. In addition, you should know your limits during workouts. If you lift weights, don’t do too much, too fast. Also, if you’re feeling pain, stop exercising immediately. Knowing your limits is key to preventing injuries and pains, including neck stiffness.
Finally, be sure to check your posture throughout the day. Posture experts suggest setting an alarm in the afternoon to do a posture check. Try to stay aware of how you’re sitting, standing and sleeping. Having good posture may be all you need to prevent neck pain in the future.
- Do daily neck stretches
Neck stretching and strengthening is also a great way to prevent neck pain. Start your morning with a set of neck exercises that will keep you pain-free. You can even add these to your daily lower back stretches – your joints will thank you!
According to the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, there are four good stretches you can do daily
- Neck tilt: To do a neck tilt, lean your head down so that your chin touches your chest. Then return your head to a neutral position. Hold for a few seconds.
- Side to side: For a side to side, lean your head to the side so that you ear touches your shoulder. Hold this position for a few seconds, then do the same stretch on the other side.
- Neck turn: As the name suggests, turn your head to one side and hold it for a few seconds. Your chin should stay level for this stretch. Then do the same stretch on the other side.
- Neck stretch: For this turtle-like stretch, gently thrust your chin forward. Your chin should stay level as your throat stretches. Hold for a few seconds, then repeat the exercise for thrusting your chin backwards.
- See a chiropractor
Finally, if your neck pain just won’t go away, you should see a chiropractor. A professional chiropractic clinic – such as Better Health Chiropractic in Juneau – can create a customized plan for the daily stretches and exercises you should be doing, as well as take a holistic look at other factors related to your neck pain. Generally speaking, a chiropractor can make recommendations for neck adjustments, exercise, diet, supplements and massage therapy. This comprehensive approach will not only resolve your neck pain, but also help you develop a healthier you.