Kick that kink in your neck with a few, simple techniques!
Few things are worse than waking up with a gigantic kink in your neck. That feeling of not being able to turn your head side-to-side, without a sharp pain radiating down your neck, is truly aggravating. We have all been there. But what happens if the kink does not kick? What causes the pain and how can we prevent it from happening in the future?
Neck strain is not unusual. And there are many reasons for experiencing it (which we will get into this more next). Most discomfort occurs because the neck area contains many muscles, joints, and nerves. All of which support the body in different ways. When misalignment of our skeletal structure occurs, the neck area bears the weight. Figuratively and literally.
What Causes Neck Tension?
For starters, the average head weighs about 10 pounds. In other words, your neck is essentially lifting a 10-pound weight all day long. Phew! The first thing that may come to mind when hearing this is posture. And you are exactly correct.
One of the main causes of neck tension is poor posture. This is especially true during a time of increased technology usage and longer hours of remote working. Poor posture causes an overuse of muscles. For example, visualize your posture as you are sitting at your desk (procrastinating) and staring downward at your phone. The muscles in your neck are working overtime to support the head in this unnatural, downward position. Ultimately, this pressure leads to muscle strain – and neck pain.
Incorrect posture can also cause “pinched” nerves. When you hunch your back over, the spine is no longer in its natural alignment. This posture causes discs in the vertebrae to compress, bumping against nerves that run throughout the body (think: spinal cord). This compression causes a pinched nerve – with sensations of numbness, burning, or tingling around the neck area.
While posture is typically the reason for the tension, other causes for developing neck pain include:
- Exercise & Activity: Incorrect form while lifting – or neck strain from too much movement.
- Stress: Stress can impact the entire body, including muscles. Continuous muscle tension leads to strain in the body (and neck).
- Sleeping Position: In a way, this falls under posture. Still, sleeping in an awkward position or with too many pillows propped under your head causes neck pain in the morning.
- Accidents: Traumatic incidents, such as a fall or car accident, can result in serious whiplash and neck strain.
How Can I Prevent Neck Tension?
We can all agree that neck pain is not a fun time. So, what can we do to prevent it from happening? Simply put, ergonomics. Ergonomics means fitting a workplace to your needs. Arranging a space to fit your body – your body’s height and span, from both a sitting and standing perspective. The practice of ergonomics makes working efficient for you. It minimises strain and, in return, minimises injury. A few quick tips for achieving ergonomics in your work space are:
- Adjusting your seat and desk height so that you are at eye level with your computer. You may also need to move your monitor closer to you, preventing your neck from extending.
- Buying an office chair that supports the curvature of your spine. This will reduce pressure placed on vertebrae muscles.
- Making sure your arms are thoroughly supported by an armrest or desk. This will prevent muscle fatigue.
Outside of ergonomics, take frequent breaks from your desk and electronics. Get active! Go outside for a stroll, stretch, or take a workout class. Motion is lotion. Increasing activity throughout the day allows your muscles to relax and removes tension from being in the same posture for hours. Not to mention, exercise is a mood-booster and overall stress-reliever. You will bounce back to your desk with energy to take on the rest of the workday!
At-Home Neck Tension Relief Techniques
There are plenty of simple stretches you can also incorporate throughout the day to relieve neck tension. All of these can be done within the comfort of your own home or office space. These stretches allow for light movement, preventing overuse or tightening of your neck muscles. Here are a couple to get you started:
- Neck-To-Ear Stretch:
o Stand-up tall with your feet shoulder-width apart.
o Take your right hand, wrap it over top of your head. Your hand should be touching your left ear.
o Gently pull your head downward, toward your right armpit. And hold for 30 seconds.
o Repeat with the other side.
- Neck-To-Chest Stretch:
o Similar to the stretch above. Start standing up.
o Gently drop your head forward, allowing your chin to get close to touching your chest. Hold for 30 seconds.
o Now, gently fall your head backwards, allowing your gaze to be up at the ceiling. Make sure your shoulders are relaxed. Hold for 30 seconds.
o Repeat exercises.
Wanting to learn more about neck tension – or perhaps your neck pain is remaining consistent? Give us a call today to schedule a consultation/appointment.