Sometimes, life can be a pain in the neck.
Most people have experienced or will experience some degree of neck and shoulder pain in their lives.It can turn an ordinary day into an excruciating hassle.
Typically, neck pain is caused by strain, sprain, or tension in the muscles in the back and sides of the neck. This can lead to added discomforts such as headaches and shoulder pains.
Several common issues cause neck and shoulder pain; but whatever the cause, there are things you can do to protect your neck and shoulders as well as find relief when you do experience pain.
One of the most common causes of neck and shoulder pain is incorrect body posture. Many people spend their days hunched forward. Driving, desk jobs, texting, and gaming, all tend to pitch the body forward causing the spine to curve unnaturally. This creates tension in the neck and back, which can lead to pain and soreness. Ouch.
Other causes of neck pain, which often lead to shoulder pain, are incorrect sleeping habits and high amounts of stress. Sleeping on your stomach can cause pain because it forces your neck to remain in a rigid sideways position throughout the night. During stressful situations or days, our bodies clench and hold the stress. We tend to forget to breathe deep and relax. The tension in the neck travels to the shoulder muscles and often causes headaches.
So if you spend a lot of your day behind the wheel or in front of a computer, give yourself a break once in a while. Notice yourself and your position. Sit up straight and tall, stretch your neck by drawing circles with your nose and nodding yes and no. Pull your shoulders back and down away from your ears. If you can, get up and walk around for a few minutes, which will benefit your entire body including your neck. If you have trouble remembering, or find it difficult to stop, try setting a timer to remind you every hour or so.
If video is more useful for you then text, be sure to check out our helpful stretch videos for the nek and shoulders.
Another helpful tip is to avoid sleeping on your stomach and find a good pillow. Switch your sleep position to either your side or back. Pillows that support your head, keep your neck???s natural curve, and hold your neck in a neutral alignment with your spine are a necessary to avoid neck and shoulder pain. Find one that feels good and that doesn???t leave your head cranked too far up or down.
So what if, after all that, you do wake up with a stiff and painful neck/shoulders, or you notice during the day a creeping pain? There are things you can do that may offer relief.
First, never force your neck to move in a way that causes pain. It???s a good idea to stretch your sore neck muscles, but only as far as they will go without pain.
Other remedies include alternating hot and cold compresses. Pay attention to how your body responds though, as sometimes heat application can cause the pain to intensify. A warm shower focusing the water stream on the areas of pain may also bring you relief. If you can, lie down several times throughout the day to give your neck and shoulders a short rest.
If you are interested in more information on how to manage neck and shoulder paion at home, download our free ebook!