By Hardik Maheshwari, December 8 2020—
With up to 75 per cent of the world’s population suffering from neck pain at one point or another, it’s safe to say that this is a fairly common problem. While some neck pain can be traced back to medical conditions, some are caused by lifestyle behaviors and habits. The latter is much easier to treat. However, whether your neck pain stems from a chronic condition or lifestyle habits, these tips should help you experience less pain. It’s safe to say that sitting in front of a computer, doing Zoom classes, doesn’t help.
1. Check Your Sleeping Position
If you sleep in a position that does not offer adequate support to your neck, this can strain your neck, causing pain. A very soft or very hard pillow can cause you problems as well. A great pillow is one whose elevation is high enough to keep your spine straightened out, as opposed to one that forces you to contort your neck at an angle. Your preferred sleeping style, as well as different sleeping positions, places pressure on your neck differently.
Try using a feather pillow, which easily conforms to the shape of the neck. Feather pillows will collapse over time, however, and should be replaced every year or so. Another option is a traditionally shaped pillow with “memory foam” that conforms to the contour of your head and neck. Some cervical pillows are also made with memory foam. Manufacturers of memory-foam pillows claim they help foster proper spinal alignment. Avoid using too high or stiff a pillow, which keeps the neck flexed overnight and can result in morning pain and stiffness. If you sleep on your side, keep your spine straight by using a pillow that is higher under your neck than your head. When you are riding in a plane, train, or car, or even just reclining to watch TV, a horseshoe-shaped pillow can support your neck and prevent your head from dropping to one side if you doze. If the pillow is too large behind the neck, however, it will force your head forward.
2. Adjust Your Sleeping Style-If You Can
You probably can’t explain why you prefer sleeping a certain way. Most people can’t. However, sleeping on your back is the best way to rest the entire length of your spine, head and neck to rest in a neutral position. If you have neck pain that won’t go away, try swapping your sleeping position to back sleeping, and see if your pain subsides. It might take some getting used to, but it’s worth a try.
3. Raise Your Computer Monitor
If you spend hours on your computer or laptop every day, this is something you should consider. If you catch yourself busy on your computer, you will see the poor posture you are forced to adopt to see your monitor. To ease the strain on your neck, raise your computer higher. When looking at your computer, your eye level should be at the top third of your screen. If you have to look downwards, this puts pressure on your neck.
4. Your Phone
You might be getting neck pain from your phone — either from texting or from being on the phone for too long. Text neck is becoming more common as people become more attached to the conveniences of mobile phones and other smaller gadgets. Looking down at a device for hours on end stresses the ligaments and discs on your neck area. This can cause premature degeneration in your neck. If you are unable to cut the time you spend on your mobile gadgets, ensure to lift the gadget to eye level as opposed to looking down to view your screen. Being on the phone also requires you to cock your head left or right, especially if your hands are engaged. If you catch yourself doing this a lot, you might need to invest in a good quality headset to keep neck pain at bay.
5. Stretch and Exercise Your Neck
While most people remember their abs, biceps and glutes when working out, the neck is an often neglected part of the body. The muscles in your neck are responsible for the gross motor movement. Exercising the neck can lessen neck pain by increasing blood flow to the neck, decreasing spasms and building neck strength and endurance. Most neck exercises are simple and do not require you to visit the gym nor purchase gym equipment. Learn how to make two to three moves well and do them at your desk or on short breaks. Like if you can, then you should try neck side bend and rotation and some shoulder stretch exercises as they also help a lot in case of neck pain and give a lot of relief.
As you can see, your lifestyle and habits have a lot to do with neck pain. Try some or all of these tips and see if you can eliminate or lessen any neck pain you might have been experiencing. If there is no improvement or your pain worsens, you are best advised to consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis.