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Six Ways to Be Nice to Your Neck

Posted Jun 05 2010 12:38pm

At the Computer: Make sure you have a good ergonomic setup. The keyboard should be at about waist level, and the monitor should be at eye level. If you spend a lot of time on a laptop, it may make sense to plug in a separate keyboard when you are at home or the office. And, take breaks once in a while to reset the forward creep our head tends to do when looking at the same thing for a long time!

While Driving: Be conscious of keeping your head in alignment with the rest of the spine. If your headrest forces your head into a forward position, consider placing a pillow behind the back to correct for the curvature this causes. And, be conscious of your tension and aggravation while on the road!

While Sleeping:
Make sure you have a good, supportive mattress. This is a main factor for pain anywhere in the spine. The pillow is also important. I suggest either a molded pillow with built-in neck support to align your spine, or a feather pillow that can be bunched up under the neck to provide support. It may take some experimentation to find what works for you.

Out and About: keep your neck covered in chilly or windy conditions. This sounds weird to the Western ear, but in Chinese medicine one main source of neck pain is the “invasion of wind into the channels of the neck.” It does seem to be true that sensitive neck structures go into spasm easily in a cold draft. In the summer, we come in and out of air-conditioned spaces a lot, which can make the neck vulnerable. Consider keeping a scarf handy, or wearing a shirt with a collar.

At the Beginning/End of the Day: Incorporate some stretching or yoga into your routine. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or take a long time. It’s a good idea to stretch the whole body, especially the spine, since tension elsewhere in the body often refers to the neck. And, the increased flexibility and circulation will help healing and prevent degenerative changes.

All the Time: Attend to your stress level. The neck may be the first place you notice that your mind and heart need some attention. Whatever works for you — talking to a friend, exercising, meditation, music — remember that your emotional well-being is key to your health, and not an over-indulgence or luxury!


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