How Do We Prevent Neck Pain?
Whether it is a strain because of a wrong position while sleeping, or soreness after spending a lot of time looking at the screen for work, we’ve all faced neck pain in our lives. While all of these are quite mild manifestations of neck pain, there might be serious reasons why neck pain may seem consistent and intense.
Degenerative diseases like arthritis and osteoarthritis lead to a decrease in the quality of bones and joints, causing consistent sharp pain. There may be other underlying health issues too, like a herniated disk, bulging disk, TMJ pain, or even a nerve impingement as a result of a sudden impact or injury.
In some cases, we find that sports or occupational-related causes are also responsible for consistent and recurring neck pain due to overuse of the joints surrounding the neck. Whatever may be the reason, neck pain can be prevented if we adopt some serious lifestyle changes.
From physiotherapy for neck pain to changing your pillows, here are top 10 tips to prevent neck pain:
- Change Your Pillow
People diagnosed with spinal arthritis and stenosis like sleeping at a slight incline. What works for them is a foam-based pillow for extra comfort. More often than not, the prevention plan is quite simple and basic but goes a long way to keep flare-ups at bay. Changing your pillow helps as it keeps your cervical spine aligned, helps support the natural curve of the spine and makes sure that it is supported and well maintained. The kind of pillow that is right for you is heavily dependent on your concerns and your underlying issues. Make sure that it is not too high and should prevent your neck and head to bend in uncomfortable positions at night. Some people find comfort in being supported by an orthopedic pillow with a deeper crevice and depression that comes with extra support under the neck. In some cases, people prefer a flat pillow and a position where they lie on their back. To make sure that you have a well-rested sleep, make sure you have an extra pillow at night as you may change your sleeping positions at night. But the most preferred option would be to sleep on your back if you can to make sure that your spine is comfortable. If you are facing a strain in your neck, it is advisable to place a pillow under both arms to take off the strain of the neck.
- Build A Ergonomic Workspace
You have to make sure that your workspace is optimized to help support your neck and NOT aggravate any kind of neck pain. A great way to do that is to make sure that the computer is at eye level. If you have to look down every time to look at your laptop or computer, then you need to get a laptop booster or shelf that helps you keep your neck level and screen directly at eye level. When choosing an office chair, make sure that is well cushioned with good lumbar support that helps provide comfort during long hours of your workday. Make sure that the office chair is well positioned so that you don’t have to bend your neck to look at the screen properly. If you are someone who is on calls all day, make sure that you invest in a great headset, to avoid the tilting of your neck to one side for prolonged periods of time. A hands-free pair of earphones works really well to avoid the bend in the neck that can cause serious issues later on.
- Be Mindful While Texting
Yes, texting at an incorrect position for prolonged periods of time can cause neck pain. When we are texting, we are usually looking down at our phone for hours at a time which is causing considerable stress to our neck. This is not a one-off thing, we text in this incorrect position quite often and this prolonged stress to the surrounding ligaments, joints, and disc around the neck accelerate the degenerative effects. When you are texting or looking at something on your phone, make sure that you raise your device to eye level, take frequent breaks from looking at the screen, rest your hands, and perform some stretches can help ease your neck stiffness.
- Invest Time In Physiotherapy For Neck Pain
Physical therapy is a long-term prevention plan that can help you prevent flare-ups, restore range of motion and help regain functionality with a non-invasive, drug-free approach. Physiotherapy for neck pain comes with a set of exercises, stretches, manual therapies, massages, lifestyle changes, and more to help you with short-term pain relief as well as long-term pain prevention. Through back and core strength exercises, physiotherapy aims to empower the muscles in the back and the core to support your spine and prevent neck pains in the future. Your assigned physiotherapist works with you to provide a wholesome plan that recommends lifestyle changes that you can fit in your schedule to prevent neck pain in the future.
- Correct Your posture
One of the aims of physiotherapy for neck pain is to work on correcting posture and movement. It is not always possible to sustain a straight, upright posture but if you are constantly in a crooked and slouched position you are inviting long-term degenerative effects on the neck. Whenever you are in a bad posture, there is extra pressure on your spine to hold this, which causes pressure on the surrounding muscles and joints. This in turn leads to soreness, stiffness, and pain. Ensure that you are consciously making the effort to change your posture whenever you find yourself slouching, and perform short stretches while taking a break from work.
- Drink More Water
Staying hydrated is a great way to nourish the spongy, shock-absorbing disks between the vertebrae in your neck. Since these discs are mostly made of liquid, gel-like structures, drinking water helps keep these discs strong and lubricated. Make sure to drink loads of water during the day. Keep yourself accountable to drink at least drink 8 whole glasses of water every day. You can also help this habit by buying a water bottle that comes with specifications of the daily recommended intake. You can also download reminders on your app that will send you an alert every time you need to drink water.
- Keep Your Movement Stable
One of aims of physiotherapy for neck pain is to identify incorrect movement and suggest ways in which patients can move without causing further strain to their joints, muscles, and ligaments. Your physiotherapist works with your trainer to include or exclude certain movements and lifts that are aggravating your neck pain. One of the most common suggestions is to lift weight evenly. We often carry a heavy bag of groceries on one side or our heavy laptop bag on one side of the body. This puts an uneven load on your shoulder causing strain on the neck and the muscles. Make sure that you are lightning your load at all times, and carry only essentials when you can, and make sure you are using backpacks that come with shoulder straps that are adjustable and with extra padding.
- Get Regular Checkups
The best tip to prevent neck pain is to get regular check-ups with your doctor so that you do not miss out on something serious. If you have been facing consistent and sharp pains in the neck, there might be underlying reasons for it, and the best way to prevent that is to get diagnosed and design a treatment plan so it does not worsen.
- Get a Massager
For mild forms of neck pain, either due to bad sleeping position or posture, make sure you have a massager handy. This massage with its pulsating vibrations relieves pent-up pressure and tension in the neck to help with short-term pain relief. Getting regular in-person massages are also a great, therapeutic way to keep neck pain at bay.
- Identify Trigger Points
There are certain trigger posts near the joints and ligaments around the neck that trigger muscle pains. These trigger areas are basically knots in the muscle or fascia (the layer of tissue around the muscle and under the skin) You can relieve this pain either by self-massages or by getting manual therapies included in physiotherapy for neck pain.
Phyt Health is India’s first digital physiotherapy platform using 3D Imaging and Artificial Intelligence to accurately capture your movements and recommend relevant treatment plans. On the physiotherapy app, you will find a wealth of exercises that are curated by expert physiotherapists that you can perform in the comfort of your own home.
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