Suffering from neck pain?
You’re not alone.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans suffer from chronic neck pain daily, and most of them aren’t aware of what they’ve done to bring it on.
The first step is understanding what the initial cause of the pain was.
What Causes Neck Pain?
It’s generally not a difficult question to answer: Poor posture is the number one cause of neck pain.
Carrying your head too far in front of your body means a great deal of unnecessary strain is generated, which your neck muscles need to handle.
Are you under exceptional stress?
Stress can also be a huge factor for neck pain, as it usually manifests physically as muscle tension in the shoulders.
Poor posture sneaks up on us throughout the day and can be the source of back, neck and shoulder pain, which then can lead to aches, migraines, sleeplessness and even fatigue.
What Can Be Done?
You may be tempted to pop at over-the-counter headache medicine to treat neck pain, but that is only masking the problem. Treating the source of the pain and correcting poor lifestyle choices will allow you to self-heal.
Here are a few tried and true techniques for treating neck pain that are endorsed by massage therapists:
Practice proper posture
If you sit at a desk for work, this is especially important.
As you read, try lifting your chin a few inches and pushing your shoulders back, as if you were holding a lemon with both shoulder blades.
Notice how it opens your chest and rids your profile of a double chin? Ensure that your lower back isn’t overly curved and that your head is over your shoulders.
The average person’s head weighs around 20 pounds. Practicing proper posture is like balancing a bowling ball on top of your neck. Even an inch off center will create unnecessary tension in your balancing neck muscles.
Relaxing your shoulders just a bit will allow you to be in the most aligned sitting position.
Feel how different this is from where you just were?
If you find yourself hunched over throughout the day, try raising your computer so that you’re not crouching down to see the screen. You may also choose to use a lumbar pillow to help you sit back in your seat.
If you’re feeling stiff in this new position, try bending at the waist and letting your hands float down to the ground. Release tension in your neck and shake your head “yes” and “no” a few times to loosen up.
Modify your lifestyle
Stress, poor sleep, lack of exercise, dehydration and unhealthy eating can all add up to neck pain and subsequent headaches.
To start, pursue a small goal, like eating three servings of fruits and vegetables each day or walking for 30 minutes. Commit to a time of 30 days, to give it a chance of becoming a new habit, but not so long that it feels impossible.
It’s remarkable how even small, but consistent changes in our behaviors can affect change.
Correct your sleeping position
Sleeping position can also greatly influence your neck and back alignment and strength. If you find yourself waking up very sore, check that your mattress is firm.
Try sleeping with a round pillow under your knees while lying on your back to ensure that you do not have an overly curved lower back.
Since neck and back muscles work together, a chain reaction can occur when either is misaligned. You can also lie on the ground with a pillow under your knees to gently stretch your body back into alignment.
If any of these practices or stretches for your back or neck are painful, try seeking the help of a massage therapist. A massage therapy session can alleviate neck aches long enough for you to make these changes to your routine and habits without the associated pain.
Remember – Small changes applied consistently can make big differences! It’s amazing how much of what causes us physical pain can be improved dramatically by simply eating and drinking well, exercising frequently, practicing good posture, and getting enough quality sleep.
Finally – Go see your massage therapist, who’s been trained to help care for the body and can help you get your mind and body back in balance.