You wake up one morning and notice your neck feels a little stiff. You make some seemingly minor movement like brushing your hair or reaching up to apply shampoo and you are struck with disabling neck pain. The first thing you think is “not again….I don’t have time for this”. If this sounds familiar, then this article is for you.
The best way to prevent episodes of neck pain is to make simple changes when your neck is feeling good. These simple tips can help to decrease the number and intensity of painful episodes.
Your mom was right. Posture matters.
Look over at your colleagues when they have been working on a computer for over an hour and it will be no mystery why neck pain has become a problem for so many people. Our bodies evolved to hunt and gather not click and surf. Have your workstation set up by an ergonomist and try not to work in other locations like sofas or beds. If you do not have access to an ergonomist try to set things up to look like the picture below.
Stop Sleeping on the Sofa
Netflix neck has overwhelmed physiotherapy clinics for the last few years. When you are binge-watching the new season of Game of Thrones and drift off in an awkward position your neck does not stand a chance! Sofas are not meant for sleeping or long-term lounging. If you are a sofa sleeper, cut it out to see a significant reduction in your neck pain.
Check Your Range of Motion Every Day
Necks usually become stiff before they become painful. Take a minute or two each day to gently stretch in all directions. Begin by looking up and down, then turn right and left and lastly bend your ear to your shoulder on each side. If you notice a particular movement is stiff, hold it for 10 seconds and repeat that direction several times until your range of motion feels normal again.
The Best Defense is a Great Offence
Injury occurs when the load on your neck exceeds your muscle’s ability to stabilize the joints, resulting in excess stress being applied to non-muscular structures. So the strength of the muscles that stabilize your neck is key to living pain-free. The shoulder blades are the foundation for many of our neck muscles so strength training to eliminate neck pain must include both neck and shoulder girdle muscles. A short resistance training program designed to improve your strength when pushing or pulling up from the floor, out in front of you and over your head will reduce your risk of neck pain a great deal. Talk to your physiotherapist to design a program that will work for you.
**Disclaimer: Great neck and shoulder strength will not make it possible for you to sleep on the sofa….when you are asleep, your muscles are not doing much!
If you follow these tips, you can expect to see a reduction in the number and intensity of painful episodes within two months. These tips are meant to be implemented when you are between acute episodes. If you are experiencing a persistent painful episode you should be assessed and treated by your Physiotherapist. To book a home physiotherapy appointment with a registered physiotherapist, click here
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