10 Ways to Prevent Neck Pain
Neck pain is common. It may be the result of straining the muscles, tendons and ligaments (the soft tissues) in your neck or it may be due to an underlying condition affecting your neck bones (vertebrae) and joints.
Judging by Google searches alone, many of us are keen to prevent neck pain. So here are 10 tips, which focus on the benefits of good sleep, good posture and overall well being.
1. Get good sleep
Though it might not feel like it if you have young kids, you spend about a third of your life sleeping.
So it’s vital that those hours are good. Sleep itself makes a big difference to your experience of musculoskeletal pain, including neck pain. If you have difficulty falling or staying asleep or if you wake up too early and without feeling refreshed, then you’re significantly more likely to experience chronic musculoskeletal pain.
And once you’re in pain, it’s really hard to sleep! That creates a vicious cycle where your pain disrupts your sleep and your sleep problems worsen your pain.
2. Invest in a good pillow
A good pillow is one of the best ways to prevent neck pain while sleeping. Your pillow should hold your neck and head at the right height to prevent strain. So, choose your pillow carefully, avoiding one that’s too high or too low. Given the number of hours you’ll spend lying on it, you need a supportive pillow.
3. Sleep on your back or side
It can be hard to change your preferred sleeping position but your neck will thank you for sleeping on your back or side rather than your front. Sleeping on your front arches your back and twists your neck to the side.
If you find sleeping on your side a bit odd, try putting a rolled-up towel between your knees.
4. Good posture
Your neck has the rather large job of supporting the weight of your head. It finds that job easiest to do when your head is properly aligned on top of your shoulders rather than stretched in a less comfortable posture.
5. Avoid text neck
If you’re anything like the average Aussie, you may spend 5.5 hours per day, about a third of your waking hours, looking at your smartphone.
And you probably do that by holding your phone in your lap and looking down at it.
Welcome to text neck, the nickname for a posture where your head leans forward for a long time.
Text neck isn’t only a risk when using your phone. You may also develop it by working on your computer on your lap, knitting for a long time or reading while sitting up.
You can prevent text neck by avoiding holding your neck in that position for a long time. Take breaks, move about, or hold your device in a better position that doesn’t strain your neck.
6. Get an ergonomic workspace
Few of us are lucky enough to have a made-to-measure desk. That means you’re probably changing your position to suit the desk rather than setting things up to suit your body.
If you want to prevent neck pain while sitting at a desk, then you need an ergonomic workspace.
An ergonomic workspace is one where:
- The computer screen is in front of your eyes without you tilting your head at all
- Use a stand or box to lift the screen to the correct height
- Use a separate keyboard and mouse if you’ve had to lift your laptop screen up
- Your back is straight
- Your knees and elbows are at 90 degrees – get a footrest if necessary.
7. Break up long drives
Australia is a big, big country. On a long drive, you have to sit in the same position for hours at a time, often with your head held in a certain posture to keep a good eye on the road.
Taking regular breaks from driving is important for preventing accidents. Use those breaks to change your neck position or do a few stretches.
8. Do some stretches
Neck stretches are another way to prevent neck pain. They only take a few minutes and can easily be done wherever you happen to be. Try these exercises to prevent neck pain.
9. Relieve tension
Depression, conflict and muscle tension have been shown to trigger neck pain. Tension and stress can lead to tight, sore muscles.
If you think stress is causing your neck pain then it’s time to take stock. Massage or a heat pack may help to ease the pain but, in the long run, you need to do what you can to ease the stress in your life.
10. Exercise regularly
Regular aerobic exercise benefits your body and your mind. Regular exercise eases neck pain by:
- Helping to ease stress and improve mood
- Increasing blood flow to the soft tissues of your neck, which loosens the muscles and improves range of motion
- Releasing endorphins, your body’s natural painkillers.
How can The Brisbane Spine Clinic help?
If you’re concerned about neck pain, then please come to see us. We can help to ease the symptoms by relieving tension in your muscles and advising on better postures. We can also investigate whether there’s an underlying medical condition that’s contributing to your neck pain.
Please make an appointment today.
All information is general in nature. Patients should consider their own personal circumstances and seek a second opinion.