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Decreasing Tension in the Neck and Upper Back

Posted Mar 13 2009 3:41pm

In the year 2009- we are a pretty high tech society, where computers play a major role in our day to day lives. It is one thing to be on your computer to buy something online, but its another to be working on the computer for 8 hours at a time. At the neck pain support blog, I get a lot of inquiries about how to relieve tension in the neck after using the computer all day - often 5 days a week for some poor souls! We are talking about neck pain, upper back and shoulder pain- and sometimes even headaches. This translates to a decrease in neck mobility, increase in stiffness and pain. Even turning your head to check your blind spot can be a cause for pain and discomfort. So what can you do? You cannot choose not to work - but you can choose to change your work environment and habits, albeit small changes:

  • Be vigilant about how many hours you are logging on the computer without taking a break- that means physically getting out of your chair and doing something besides sitting at the computer. Get up, grab some fresh air- it will do your body and mind some good. Better yet, walk for about 2-5 minutes.

  • Use an ice pack at the end of the day to decrease pain in the neck and upper back.

  • Use a topical pain relieving gel like biofreeze for tightness and soreness in the muscles. You can even learn to treat tight muscles using this effective natural pain relief gel. Better yet, have someone help you with this. It will be more relaxing ! Follow up with an ice therapy for 10 minutes (see bullet above)

  • Use a good support pillow at night. When your muscles are tight and sore , you want to make sure your head and neck are aligned properly while sleeping. A cervical support pillow is one that has an indentation in the middle of the pillow (a place for your head to lie). It is best not to get a super hard pillow or a super soft fluffy pillow- unless you want to be sore when you wake up the next morning. Yes, it’s best to have a pillow that is just firm enough to give you the right support, yet soft enough to be comfortable. One example of this is the linear gravity neck pillow. Lineargravityneckpillow This pillow has 2 neck rolls that you can choose from to sleep on. One neck roll is bigger than the other. With a square center, this pillow will cradle your head and give you a good sleeping position at night. One of the reasons I recommend this neck pillow often, is that the pillow comes in a small ( 17” x 23”), medium (20”x26”) and large (21”x33”)- size is important when it comes to choosing the right neck pillow. If you are 5 ft 1” and weight 100 lbs- a large size pillow is going to raise your head, creating forward head carriage while you sleep. On your side the pillow would tilt your head and neck into an uncomfortable position- whereas your neck should be straight so as not to put extra pressure on the sensitive cervical nerves. These postures put a tremendous amount of pressure on the cervical spine and the related muscles. Choose the size of your pillow according to your height, weight and frame- it will make for a more comforting sleep at night.

  • One of the muscle groups that will be in total spasms after a days work is most likely the trapezius musculature. Stretch the neck muscles and the trapezius. Stretching the Trapezius Muscle Hold each stretch for at least 10-15 seconds. Another simple activity is to roll your shoulder back and forward and few times. Even neck exercises can be helpful.

  • For trigger point therapy use a system that you can do on your own called the Healthy Neck System.

  • Get adjusted by a chiropractor- Its not normal for us to be sitting for extended periods of time. It creates misalignments in our neck, upper back and midback.

    Tension can build up in the neck and upper back and shoulder area from any stress in our life- if we use the computer as part of our everyday routine, than making some simple changes to our lifestyle can make a big difference and make our work more enjoyable.

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