The Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Neck Posture & Get Rid of Neck Pain
Posted Aug 21 2009 10:20pm
1. Design your workstation to be ergonomically correct. Check the distance and angle of your computer screen, the height of your chair, your keyboard, and how your arms rest on your chair. Little adjustments can make a big difference in how you feel at the end of the day. For example, the top of your computer monitor should be at the level of your eyebrows approximately. Angle your computer up or place a phone book or two under the monitor to raise it up as necessary. Continually having to look down or flex your head forward can put a lot of stress on the neck muscles and can lead to poor neck posture. You can even use a bookend or note holder (similar to recipe book holder) to place your documents on while typing, thereby preventing you from constantly looking down.
Use a Cervical Support Neck Pillow for Sleeping at Night. Using a supportive neck pillow such as the cervical linear traction neck pillow will allow your head and neck to be aligned while sleeping on your side or on your back. This pillow will ensure that you have good neck posture while sleeping by allowing your neck to the have the proper c-curve while sleeping. For those people who suffer from neck pain due to a herniated disc, disc bulge or degenerative disc- having the right neck pillow is crucial for pain relief and maintaining mobility in the neck.
Do neck exercises a few times a week. If you suffer from neck pain or neck stiffness, do these Neck Stretches slowly and only to the point that you can feel the stretch- you never want to do them to the point of pain. This is especially important if you suffer with neck arthritis or degeneration in the cervical spine. Keeping the joints moving and flexible is very important for patients with arthritis in the neck. This will ensure flexibility and mobility in the neck. When stretching don’t bounce during the stretch- hold the stretch steady for 10-15 seconds (or as prescribed by your therapist). Remember motion is life!
Do Strengthening Exercises a few times a week. Strengthening Exercises for the neck also know as Isometric exercises. Isometric exercise is a type of exercise involving the static contraction of a muscle without any visible movement in the angle of the joint. Simply, this means that in these exercises the length of the muscle does not change. As you continue to do these strengthening exercises for the cervical spine you will gain strength in your neck. Strong neck muscles will prevent you from getting injured.
5. Check your posture during your activities of daily living. For example, if you are driving for most of the day or using the computer constantly, try not to have a forward head posture. Changing the distance of your car seat to the pedal can make a big difference. Don’t clench your hands on the steering wheels- as this can cause stiffness in the neck and upper back as well.
See a chiropractor to make sure your cervical spine is properly aligned. If you suffer from chronic neck pain, the chiropractor may refer you for x-rays which can show the alignment of your spine. For example if you have been diagnosed with a military neck or loss of cervical lordosis, talk to your Doctor about doing a neck traction protocol.
Change your sleeping position for the better at night. If you are a stomach sleeper, consider sleeping on your back or on your side. Sleeping on your stomach can cause misalignment issues and also muscle spasms. Sleeping on your stomach is one cause of waking up with a stiff neck. It is normal for one to move into different position at night. Sometimes being in one position for too long can be cause of pain. We spend 1/3 of our life sleeping, so sleeping position is important for health.
8. Check your Neck Posture While Exercising. When exercising or lifting weights, keep your head and back in an upright erect position- to much forward flexion can cause a strain on the neck muscles. Avoid neck pain while doing your abdominal exercises by keeping proper form.
Reduce stress during the day. Stress increases the cortisol levels in your body. In addition to causing other problems in the body, it can also cause tight muscles, stiff muscles, muscle cramping and pain. Tight upper trapezius, levator scapulae, cervical parapsinals and subocciptal muscles can all be affected by stress.
10. Practice good habits with activities such as driving. Make sure you wear your seatbelt. Elevate the headrest and make sure it is close to your head (less than 1 inch). Place your seat back more vertical and upright. All these simple things can protect your neck and your head during a rear end collision – preventing whiplash symptoms. Studies have shown that multiple car accidents can cause changes in the cervical spine. Whiplash can cause damage to the soft tissues in the neck, cervical spine joints, intervertebral discs, alignment, and muscles. Your neck posture can be severely thrown off for years if you do not get proper treatment. Other symptoms can include loss of movement, headaches, TMJ problems, dizziness, shoulder and arm pain, numbness and tingling into the upper extremities. Ensuring that your body is safe and protected during driving is very important. Also, I just have to add: Don’t use your cell phone while driving (not good for your neck incidentally)- that including texting and talking. – this is plain common sense, if you ask me.