Just about everyone has suffered from neck pain at one point or another in their lives. Luckily for most people, the pain is intermittent and isn’t chronic or constant. But for some people, neck pain can be a part of everyday life. It’s important to realize that the muscles of the neck are connected to many other muscles within the body, all lending support to the joints. If one of these muscles if even a little bit off, the results could be, well, painful!
Treating Neck Pain
There are many ways to treat neck pain – everything from pain killers to chiropractic treatments. But there are also things you can do yourself to help improve your neck pain, with just a few simple changes.
Below are the top ten causes or habits that can lead to neck pain, and some tips on how you can reduce your risk of developing this pain.
Posture Posture Posture!
Poor posture is one of the leading causes of neck pain. In today’s world, technology is how we go about many things in life – communicating with others, learning new things, playing games for entertainment etc. The fact is, while technology is an important part of our lives, it can also cause lots of problems – neck pain being a big one. Try to be aware of your posture when using your technology, and be sure that you are sitting up straight, shoulders back, and your device at eye level. Ensure that you are not using posture that we refer to as ‘forward head posture – such as the posture you’d used when texting for example. Keeping the head in this forward or downward angle is the leading cause of neck pain and will have a negative impact on your entire body. If you need some tips on maintaining good posture, contact one our Vancouver chiropractors and we’ll be happy assist you!
As noted above, technology is pretty much unavoidable these days. How we use our technology makes the difference in our health issues including neck pain. While posture is key, it’s pretty difficult to have good posture if the area where our devices are located have poor ergonomics. Having a proper chair with adequate back support and having a desk with an appropriate height will all contribute to good posture, and as a result, reduced pain.
Lugging Heavy Bags
Carrying around heavy items, such as brief cases or purses on a regular basis can wreak havoc on the muscles of the neck. In part, this is due to strain being placed on one side of the body only – most women will tell you that they carry their purse on a particular side and don’t usually switch it up. If you are someone who likes to have all your ‘stuff’ with you at all times, investing in a good backpack, or at the very least, a cross-body type bag, will help to even out the strain on your neck muscles.
Poor Support During Sleep
Everyone has an opinion about which is the healthiest sleep position – some people feel sleeping on your back is a no no, others will say the same about sleeping on your stomach. But who really has control of their position while asleep? They key to proper support during sleep is having the right type of mattress and pillow so that your body is properly aligned, and your neck is supposed, no matter which side you choose to sleep on. While the softness of your mattress is a personal preference, it’s wise to invest in good quality pillows that keep cervical position and alignment in focus, so that your head is properly supported while you sleep.
Proper Chest Support
For women, having a good quality bra that is supportive, can be especially helpful to those who are large-breasted. If proper support is not in place, the weight of the chest can pull the head and shoulders forward, leading to neck pain. Additionally, the straps, if not of adequate width, can create ruts in the shoulders that will also lead to pain. Invest in good quality bras to help keep you pain free.
Arm and Wrist Support
Any time you are performing an activity that requires the constant motion of your arms and hands, it’s wise to have support in place. Typing is an excellent example – while it’s important to keep your shoulders back, sometimes this can be difficult if you don’t have supports under the elbows or wrists. Simply allowing the elbows to swing freely while performing such tasks can put an undue amount of strain on your neck and shoulders. Our chiropractors see these types of injuries frequently.
Neck Pain and the Phone
With the invention of speaker phones, it is easier to have long conversations without using your shoulder as a holder for your phone. But there are still some folks who prefer a good old fashioned phone, and continue to use the shoulder to hold the phone between the shoulder and neck while multi-tasking. This is a guaranteed way to end up with a sore neck, so if you’re guilty of this practice, it’s time to upgrade your phone and your bad habits!
Improper Walking Aids
If you are someone who requires the use of a cane, crutches or a walker, ensuring a customized fit for your height and condition is key to preventing neck pain. If you are using one of these types of items and it happens to be a bit too high or low for you, it can lead to poor posture and neck pain. So be sure you are using a walking aid that is custom to your situation.
Are you a commuter? If so you are probably spending a lot of time with both hands on the steering wheel of your car. And while you were probably taught that having your hands in the 9 – 3 position, this can actually lead to significant neck pain. It’s wiser to position your hands lower down on the steering wheel to prevent strain on your neck and shoulders.
And finally, stress, everyone’s least favorite ‘silent cause’ of so many aches and pains! When we’re stressed, we tend to tense up and hunch forward as a means of trying to protect ourselves. It’s vitally important, not just to your neck, but to your entire well-being, to address and reduce the cause of your stress, so that your body can function in an optimal way.
As you can see, there are some common habits that most of us have that can cause neck pain. Making even little changes to these habits can mean the difference between a sore neck and a happy neck! If you have any questions about neck pain or if you’re experiencing neck pain, our chiropractors can help put you on the path to relief!