Nine Tips to Prevent Neck Pain
1. Try a new pillow.
When it comes to comfort and support, there are a lot of options, and you may need to try several before finding one that works for you. As a general rule, it's best to use a pillow that keeps your cervical spine in neutral alignment—meaning, the natural curve of your neck is supported and maintained.
2. Sleep on your back.
Sleeping on your back is usually the best position to let your spine rest comfortably. Some people take the strain off of their neck by sleeping on their back and placing a pillow under each arm.
People with spinal arthritis or stenosis may find relief by sleeping at a slight incline by either adding a foam wedge pillow to their bed or switching to an adjustable bed.
If you are a side sleeper, make sure your pillow is not too high.
3. Maintain supportive posture.
This is an important one, because poor posture can cause neck pain by straining muscles and ligaments that support the neck. This can result in injury over time.
The head-and-shoulders-forward posture is the most common example of poor posture that contributes to neck pain. This occurs when the neck slants forward, placing the head in front of the shoulders.
Did you know that for every inch the head shifts forwards, an extra 10 pounds is added to the muscles in the upper back and neck. A 5-inch forward shift results in 50 extra pounds of force; keep your chin tucked inward to avoid this.
This posture causes the upper back to slump forward as well, placing a strain on the entire spine.
4. Carry weight evenly.
A lot of people carry a heavy purse or briefcase on one side of their body. This uneven load can cause your shoulders to become uneven, straining your neck muscles.
Try to lighten the weight by taking only your essentials in your purse or briefcase, and make a conscious effort to keep your shoulders level at all times. You could also consider using a backpack that distributes weight evenly across both of your shoulders.
5. Avoid neck strain from texting.
Texting or looking down at your cell phone for any length of time puts excessive strain on your neck. Over time, the added stress on the joints, ligaments, and discs in your neck can actually lead to premature degenerative changes in your neck. Whenn texting, try raising the phone to eye level, minimizing texting time, resting your hand and device on a pillow and taking frequent breaks.
6. Use a headset.
If you spend a lot of time on the phone, be sure to avoid tilting your head to the side or cradling your phone in the crook of your neck. Try using a hands-free device such as a headset or ear piece instead.
7. Keep your computer monitor at eye level.
When looking at your computer, your gaze should be in the top-third of your computer screen. If you have to look down, you need to raise your monitor up.
8. Stay well hydrated.
Drinking lots of water during the day will help nourish and hydrate the discs (spongy structures inn between the vertebrae in your neck) These discs are made up of mostly water, so staying hydrated will help your discs remain pliable and strong.
9. Relieve trigger-point pain.
Irritation to the facet joints of the lower cervical vertebrae in your neck can result in muscle trigger point points. Trigger points are small knots in the muscle or fascia (layer of tissue under your skin and around the muscle) that can lead to pain.