Our lives are hectic. This means we don’t always pay attention to where our bodies are in space or the subtle signals our body gives us indicating it is unhappy with the position we are in. Over time if we continue to ignore our body signals, we get pain that eventually does not go away. Fortunately there is something you can do to reverse this. Simple things can make a huge improvement in reducing muscle tightness, mobility and most importantly helping you to get rid of pain. Here are five ways that I find helps to get relief from neck pain.
Maintaining proper posture allows for a more efficient machine – our body. My colleague once said, “effortless posture first requires a proper base of support”. If we are slouching either at home, work, or during transportation, we are probably not on our base support and it becomes harder to sit upright.
Finding the bones in your bum will help you achieve this base support and foster good posture. First you need to find the bones located at the lower buttock area, these are referred to as the “sits bones”. If you reach with these bones as deeply as you can into the seat, it will help you have good sitting posture and off load the spine. At first it’s easiest to learn by sticking out your butt as your sit down, although after awhile you will be able to find this position without exaggerating the position.
Whether you are sitting in a chair, sleeping in bed, reading a book, or any activity, being mindful of where your body is in space will foster good postural habits. Try not to have your head forward with your chin protruding forward (jutting).
Did you know – your head in an upright position weighs about 12 lbs however, when your head is in a forward position it is equivalent to 60 lbs. That is a lot of added tension that can easily be avoided. A helpful trick to check your posture is to measure the distance from the tip of your nose to your chin. For most people your best posture will show this is the same distance from your chin to your chest (sternal notch). This will help you stay connected with where your head is positioned in space.
It can be hard to keep good neck posture at night as many people toss and turn when they sleep. We may start on our side and end up on our back, or horror of all neck horrors – on our stomach, by morning. When lying on your side, try maintaining a good distance from your ear to the shoulder as shown in the picture below. This will reduce the strain on the neck. When you sleep on your back, make sure you are not using too much pillow as that will force the head forward.
It’s important to see where your head is in relation to your chest when you get in a comfortable position to sleep. Use the same tips as mentioned above. When you are sleeping, make sure you do not have a draft on your neck at night – either from a fan or an opened window. Our muscles can develop areas of irritability, discomfort and reduced range of motion from the cold. Our tissue thrives on proper circulation and the cool air will cause your blood vessels to constrict, reducing blood flow to the tissue.
The third way to get rid of neck pain is proper ergonomics
There´s a good chance that you are not experiencing neck pain from sleeping wrong but from sitting wrong. Many people have occupations that require long periods of sitting throughout the day. Making sure that your workstations are ergonomically correct is very important. Long hours in front of an office computer with an uncomfortable chair and your work station not set up properly, can contribute to you developing neck pain. Changing your posture regularly and setting some time to take a break, stand and walk around. Don’t forget to take at least 5- to 10- minute breaks after every couple of hours.
The fourth way to get rid of neck pain is hydrotherapy
Hydrotherapy is the application of water of varying temperatures for pain relief and maintaining tissue health. It is a great cost effective tool to use in any stage of healing. It is used widely for different purposes and even sports teams use it after workouts. Many of us use ice when we have just injured ourselves and is usually the only time cold feels good. While ice and heat are common forms of hydrotherapy, contrast is not as commonly used. Alternating from hot to cold is great for flushing out inflammation and improving circulation to the tissues. When we feel sore and achy, heat usually feels the best. The stiff parts of our bodies crave the circulation that heat offers the body.
The fifth way to get rid of neck pain is to exercise regularly
Find something, which is exciting to do – it doesn’t matter whether it’s swimming, climbing, cycling, etc, just make sure you enjoy it. Maintaining your physical activity is important for your health and maintaining healthy muscles. Try to keep core strengthening a priority as it helps to support the spine and takes undue pressure off surrounding tissue. Stretching the muscles and keeping all these tips in mind, will help you to prevent and get rid of neck pain.
These small tips can make a huge change in how you feel day to day thus improving your quality of life. For more information or if you have any questions, please contact me, Juliette Woodruff at firstname.lastname@example.org or call The Orthopaedic Therapy Clinic located in Downtown Toronto to make an appointment. 416-925-4687