Whether you suffer from a daily dose of neck pain or you woke up on the wrong side of the bed today with a stiff neck, these tips can be useful! Neck aches, spasms, and chronic pain is likely a result of lifestyle and stress. This article will unfortunately not cure your neck pain by the time you are finished reading, but hopefully you will be left with a lasting impression about the importance of the habits associated with the elimination and prevention of neck pain. This will not require you to put much effort or time into your neck pain remedy, but will require discipline as this will not be an overnight solution. Consult your doctor if neck pain sustains or intensifies because this may be a sign of something more serious.
In the neck there are 7 cervical vertebrae which are separated by disks and surrounded by nerve endings, providing ample opportunities for neck pain to arise. Over 13% of American Adults report experiencing mild to chronic neck pain. The rates of cervical radiculopathy within adults are estimated to rise substantially with the growing obesity rates and aging population. What can you do to prevent this statistic to interfere with your life and neck? A few small lifestyle changes could mean the difference between neck performance and neck pain.
Tips to Reduce, Eliminate, and Prevent Neck Pain
- Regular Neck Stretches - Combining breath to movement is promoted in yoga and meditation, which are proven ways to reduce chronic pain. Try this neck stretch exercise:
- Keeping your shoulders flat and parallel to the ground drop your left ear to your left shoulder.
- As you inhale take your gaze slowly down and bring your neck to center, continuing through this inhale until your right ear is near your right shoulder.
- As you exhale rotate your neck back beginning to send your gaze up towards the sky, and following through that same exhale until your left ear is back above your left shoulder. Continue as many times as feels good.
- Improve your Posture
- In today’s day and age we are all guilty of slouching and spending our work day hunched over a keyboard. With a little bit of effort, you can improve your posture immensely while building strength in your back and neck muscles. One great exercise is to set a reminder every hour to sit up straight while you are at work. The best way to hold the proper posture is to bring your shoulder blades closer together, arching your back, and be sure to tighten your abdomen to relieve the pressure on your back.
- Try a New Pillow
- With two thirds of your life spent sleeping, it’s no wonder you are experiencing neck pain while using the same deflated pillow since college. If you have chronic neck pain it might be time to try out a new pillow. Whether you are a side, stomach, or back sleeper, a new pillow can make the world of difference. It might sound strange, but some patients have reported sleeping with a neck pillow, has resulted in pain-relief. You might also consider trying to become more of a back sleeper, at least try to fall asleep on your back -- it is better for your neck.
- Use a Cervical Support Pillow (Neck Pillow)
- Neck Pillows have amazing purposes reaching far beyond your next flight nap. If you are experiencing neck pain, a supportive cervical pillow can help alleviate some of that pressure on your neck muscles and disks. It is important that you buy a neck pillow that fits the contours of your body and actually encourages support. Although it may be comfortable to wear your neck pillow everywhere you go, you have to make an effort to strengthen the muscles supporting the neck and range of motion. That’s where a break for Tip #1 comes in
- Diet, Exercise, and Sleep - This may seem obvious and well versed by industry experts, but I figure it’s worth the reiteration. As mentioned earlier, growing cases of chronic neck pain are increasing proportionally to the growing obesity rates and aging population. A few tips that are probably not brought up in every article that touts a winning diet formula:
- Stop when Full - Yes, it may be intuitive to stop eating when you are full. Society has implanted the belief that you must clear your plate for many reasons. I am here to say it is OK to not finish your food, especially with the exponentially expanding portion sizes in the average American diet.
- More Plant-Based Foods - Meat is served as the main course of many American meals. I am here to tell you that the piece of meat on your plate is likely the cause of your weight issues. “But I have been eating meat forever”, “Meat just tastes soo good”, “I could never quit eating meat” -- if any of those just went through your head, you are not alone. Meat is hard to quit, but if you are concerned about your weight and subsequent physical condition, then perhaps cutting back on your meat consumption could work. Ever seen an obese vegan? Not likely, because their plant-based diet works wonders on your body and overall health. We are not saying you need to quit eating meat for good, we simply advocate for a more plant-based approach to diet.
- If neck pain is holding you back from the sport you love, or if the sport you love is causing neck pain, there is one thing you must add to your routine → YOGA! Yoga works wonders on your body and has been reported to reduce and eliminate chronic pain of all types.
- Get some sleep! If you are not able to quickly fall asleep or stay asleep you may want to check out this blog → It is recommended that you sleep between 7 and 9 hours every night, if you can stay within that time frame consistently you should notice a huge impact on your overall health.
We know how difficult it can be to accomplish your goals with the nagging pain associated with Cervical spinal ailments. Chronic Neck Pain can easily segue into chronic migraines, which further impact your life, and especially your quality of life. Follow these five simple steps for a stronger and healthier neck.