Get rid of the pain in your neck
Part 2 – Making sure you’re pain free at home
In my last blog I gave you some important tips for improving your posture if you work at a desk. But a desk bound job isn’t the only cause of neck pain and what you’re doing at home can also have a big impact. With that in mind and as promised, in this blog I’ll be talking you through what to avoid to make sure you stay free of pain when you’re trying to enjoy life at home.
Tablet and laptop time – a proper pain
This is hot news in the media at the moment and it’s something a lot of us are probably guilty of: from teenagers to home workers, too much time spent on devices places strain on our necks and upper backs. The portability of these devices means they really ramp up the postural demands that we make on our spines because unlike a desktop computer we’re not forced to sit at a table or desk!
So, some tips to minimise their impact
Got a desktop computer? Use it where possible. It’s much kinder on your neck. Homeworker using a laptop? Consider buying a standalone keyboard, mouse and screen to turn your laptop into something approximating a desktop PC. And use your devices at a table whenever possible.
Minimise the time spent using devices particularly when you know you’re posture is compromised e.g. lying on sofa or in bed. And always make sure you take regular breaks.
Whether it’s bags or babies, carrying – particularly if it’s one sided – takes its toll on our backs and lop sided carrying is something we frequently find as a feature of neck pain in clinic. And whilst the back does make all kinds of adaptations in order to cope, that’s not so easy for the neck to do and that’s where the symptoms often occur.
I’m realistic and do appreciate that sometimes you just don’t have a choice to carry something (or someone) on your hip so the important thing is to be aware. Whenever you can try different techniques for carrying or lifting and even more importantly try a little self-help: exercise and stretching. In my next post I’ll outline some gentle exercises and stretches which ought to help, so watch out for that one.
And when it comes to bags, common sense rules. If you’ve got a rucksack, use both straps. If you’ve got a bag with one strap, have a look at what’s inside. Is it all needed? Keep the weight down and, now and again, switch shoulders to share the burden.
Or is it your pillow or sleeping habits that’s causing you neck pain?
After ‘what’s the difference between an osteopath and a chiropractor?’, the question most commonly asked in clinic is ‘how many pillows should I use?’ And the good news is that there’s rarely any need to spend huge amounts of money on an orthopaedic pillow.
The key is to make sure that your neck is supported and your spine is in a nice, neutral position i.e. your head is neither raised nor dropped. A decent new, firm pillow should ensure that this is the case. Often two pillows will raise your head too high and just one, worn in pillow will leave it dropped and after a night’s sleep, this can strain the soft tissues of the neck. But do make sure that your neck is supported by the pillow, not just your head.
Have you got a stiff upper back?
Ever find yourself turning your head trying to get a click from your neck? This is often a sign that things are tight and stiff in your upper back and stiff upper backs are often the precursor to neck strain. It is rare that a patient with neck issues doesn’t need some work to their upper backs. But the good news is that, yes, treatment can help but so can some basic exercise and stretching routines.
So yes you’ve guessed it. In my next blog, I’ll be taking you through my simple and easy stretch and exercise routines which should help easy your neck pain and prevent injury.