When your neck hurts, it can affect your entire body. Not only can it lead to headaches, but the adjustments in your posture to compensate can actually lead to stress on your back and hips, too. While you can't prevent every instance of neck pain, there are some things you do every day that may be contributing to the frequency of the discomfort that you experience. Understanding how to reduce your own contributions to neck strain and pain may help you reduce and potentially eliminate most of your troublesome neck issues. Here are a few tips to help.
Center Yourself (Physically, That Is)
Your body is designed to stand in a straight line. This allows gravity to work WITH your body's structure and posture instead of working against it and causing pain. That means making a conscious effort to keep your body aligned and straight, from your head to your hips.
When you sit, make sure you're sitting in a position that keeps your neck straight, your head level, and your knees lower than your hips. This will help you to keep your spine straight and everything centered.
Make sure you take regular breaks, getting up to walk and keeping your head straight the whole time. Invest in a headset for both your office phone and your cell phone. Using a headset keeps you from placing the phone between your head and your shoulder when you need your hands. This position can strain the muscles and leaves your neck and spine misaligned.
Support Yourself When You Sleep
If you're a stomach sleeper, you're straining your neck and head when you sleep. You may find that you often wake up with a stiff neck. Prolonged sleeping in this position can lead to chronic back and neck pain.
If at all possible, adjust your sleeping position so you are either on your back or sleeping on your side with a neck-supporting pillow that keeps your spine and neck straight. If you sleep on your back, opt for an ergonomic pillow or one that's medium-thickness and soft enough to support you without stressing your neck. When you sleep on your side, an ergonomic pillow designed to rest your head level and sit against your shoulder is the best option.
Some people find that they can't sleep in any other position other than on their stomach. If that's you, make sure that you sleep with a thin pillow that's soft. That way, you're not putting any further strain on your neck and you're keeping your spine as aligned as possible.
Strengthen Your Neck And Spine With Toning
Another key component to keeping your neck and spine straight is ensuring that the muscles supporting them are strong, toned, and doing their best to keep things aligned. You can do a lot to help that along as well. Your chiropractor can give you a series of exercises and stretches based on your specific alignment issues, but in general, you should stretch your neck daily by dropping your shoulders, then moving your head from one side to the other to stretch those muscles. You can also stretch your arms across your chest, pulling them close as you do to stretch your shoulder muscles.
Consider adding wrist weights when you stretch your arms and shoulders, as the resistance of the weight will help you to tone those muscles and keep them as supportive as possible. In addition, work with your chiropractor for adjustments and additional treatment recommendations as well. He or she can help you maintain alignment and strengthen those muscle groups to protect your neck from injury.
If you haven't seen a chiropractor yet, make an appointment with one to evaluate the condition of your spine and neck. That way, you'll know exactly what you need to focus on to reduce your pain and discomfort. For more information, visit websites like http://www.healthatlastcitrus.com/.