People may be suffering neck and shoulder pain for many reasons. The most common form of neck and shoulder pain is caused by overusing certain muscles and poor posture.
Let’s take a look at 5 of the most common everyday mistakes that I’ve found my patients doing that cause their ‘neck and shoulder pain’…and how to fix it.
5 Quick Tips to Ease Neck and Shoulder Pain
1. Sitting Poorly Behind a Computer
When we sit and relax in a chair, the head and neck slowly protrude because the muscles that support them gradually get tired. As the muscles tire they relax, and so we lose the main support for a proper posture. This results in a protruded head posture and rounded shoulders.
A lot of people may spend more than 10 to 12 hours daily sitting at work and commuting as well as watching TV or checking emails while relaxing at home.
Poor sitting habits for prolonged periods will cause neck pain, muscle tension, headaches and even eye trouble.
So how to fix it? It is necessary to first correct the posture of your lower back. Keeping a slightly inward arch in your lower back with a ‘lumbar roll’ is very helpful to maintain a proper sitting posture. Now your head and shoulders will align better and the neck posture is much improved.
You can make a lumbar roll yourself. Simply roll up a bath towel and wrap tape or string around the towel to help maintain the shape. The roll should be no more than 5 to 6 inches in diameter before being compressed. It is also essential to take frequent breaks to interrupt the protruded head posture if spending long periods of time in sitting.
2. Poor Workstation Using A Laptop
Laptops are convenient and portable, however they are not as adjustable as desktop computers for comfortable, everyday use. Using a laptop at the dining table while working from home is not conducive to spending hours in. Elevating laptop on books or a docking station to raise your screen will decrease the workload on your neck and back muscles to keep your head upright. It’s also important to use a separate keyboard so that your forearms will be parallel to the floor and your upper arms parallel to the torso so that the stress on your neck and shoulders will be minimized.
3. Your Cell Phone
Looking down on your phone for a prolonged period of time will put enormous pressure over your neck and shoulders.
The head typically weighs about 10-12 lbs when aligned properly over the neck. However, if you look down at your cell phone with forward bending of 15 degrees, the pressure the head places on your neck will increase to 25 lbs. The equivalent pressure exerted by the head shoots up quickly as you look down further. At 60 degrees forward bending, the resulting weight on the neck becomes an astounding 60 lbs.
How Texting Could Damage Your Spine
Forces on the neck increase the more we tilt our heads
I would often say to my clients: imagine the head is like a 10-12 lb bowling ball. With proper posture the neck only has to carry one bowling ball on top of it. There is little surprise that your neck and shoulders hurt because of the equivalent 5 or 6 bowling balls the poor neck has to withstand when one looks down excessively for prolonged periods of time.
It can also be exhausting holding a phone up to watch a video. In fact, a smartphone can weigh up to 0.3 pounds!
Using a phone stand will give your neck, shoulders and hands a break. It can also do a lot for your comfort and health. It can reduce pressure and tension commonly developed around the base of the neck and shoulders. Your neck and shoulders will thank you if you keep your device on a stand.
4. Your Bag
Did you know that carrying your bag on one shoulder or holding a heavy briefcase with your laptop in one hand can also cause aches and pains in your neck and shoulders?
The weight of your bag on one shoulder or on one side of your body can throw your muscles and posture off balance. This may also be why some people have one shoulder higher than the other. Also, the way we carry our bags can cause our muscles to become stiff.
So the way to solve this problem is to reduce the weight of your bag, and to switch around the side you carry it on frequently. Switching your bag over to the opposite side will help to balance out the way your body carries the weight, reducing any tension built up in your muscles and correcting any posture problems as well. Switch it up every 10 to 15 minutes or every time you walk past two or three blocks.
5. How We Sleep
The next most frequent cause of neck pain is the way we sleep. If you sleep with your head propped up on more than 1 pillow, your neck and upper back are not going to be correctly aligned which may add more pressure on your muscles and spine.
If you find yourself sleeping on your stomach, your head is most likely to be turned to its side which means your body is in an awkward position all night.
Now can you see why you might wake up with a bit of a sore neck?… Your neck is not designed to stay in a twisted position all night for hours. So if you choose to sleep on your side, use a pillow that doesn’t prop your head up too high, but is aligned with your shoulder properly. And if you choose to sleep on your back, sleep with one thin pillow so your neck and spine are nicely aligned. The edge of the pillow may also be bunched up to form a firm support for your neck.
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