Neck pain is very common! According to one study, between 10-21% of the population will experience an episode of neck pain each year with a higher incidence rate among office workers. Between 33-65% will recover within one year, but most cases become “chronic, recurrent” meaning neck pain will come and go indefinitely. The more we can learn WHAT to do to prevent these episodes, the better.
1. SLEEP: Use a cervical pillow so the NECK is fully supported during sleep. This keeps your head in alignment with your spine. Also, if possible, sleep on your back!
2. OFFICE: Position the computer screen so that it’s at or slightly below eye level and straight in front of you. The “KEY” point is that you feel comfortable with the height of the monitor. Keep your chin “tucked in” so the 10-11 pound (4.5-5 kg) weight of your head stays back over your shoulders—this will place less of a load on your upper back and neck muscles to hold your head upright! Set a timer on your cell phone to remind you to get up and move around every 30-60 minutes.
3. TELEPHONE: If you are using the phone a lot during the day, GET A HEADSET! If you are pinching the phone between your shoulder and ear, you WILL have neck problems!
4. EXERCISE: Studies show people who are more physically active are less likely to report neck pain.
5. NUTRITION: Search for information on the “anti-inflammatory diet.” It’s basically fruits, veggies, and lean meat, with a few other twists. Also, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water each day.
6. LIFT/CARRY: A heavy purse, brief case, or roller bag can really hurt your neck. Take ONLY what you need and put the rest in a secondary bag that stays in your car or where you can access it when needed. Switch to a backpack if possible vs. a heavy brief case.
7. SELF-MASSAGE: Reach back and dig your fingers into your neck muscles and “work” the tight fibers back and forth until they loosen up. Roll your head over the top edge of a chair by sliding down until the top of the chair back rests in your neck. Search for the tight fibers and work them loose!
8. WHIPLASH: If you are injured, DO NOT WAIT! Those who seek chiropractic care shortly after an accident have less long-term trouble!