How to Reduce Neck Pain at Home
Neck pain can get the best of anyone. With so many of us working from laptops and off of smartphones, neck pain is not uncommon to many people. The position of looking down at a computer or phone for an extended period of time causes the muscles surrounding the neck joints to become overstretched. As people fall into this position day after day, the joints in the neck become displaced and the muscles can become stiff.
Studies show that when the head is held in line with the shoulders it weighs about 10 pounds. For every inch the head is tilted forward, the amount of weight that it places on the spine nearly doubles. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that approximately 20% of individuals have experienced neck pain in the past three months. Although common, neck pain does not always warrant a visit to the doctor. Below are seven ways to reduce neck pain at home.
- Practice good posture. Putting computers and monitors at eye level, sitting up straight, and avoiding tilting and twisting your neck while you are looking down at a computer can help reduce neck pain. Try keeping arms at a 90-degree angle and the spine in a neutral position.
- Take breaks and move. Whether sitting at a desk or standing on your feet, varying movements instead of remaining stuck in one position for an extended period of time helps the body. Taking short breaks for walks once every hour can be very helpful.
- Sleep safe. Sleeping on your back or side is the best way to avoid waking up with neck pain. Sleeping on your stomach leads to twisting the head one way or another for hours at a time. In addition, sleeping on your stomach can cause lower back problems.
- Stretch. These simple stretches can be done sitting or standing and help avoid neck stiffness.
- Roll shoulders backwards and down 10 times.
- Squeeze shoulder blades together 10 times.
- Push head backwards and rest in hands for 30 seconds.
- Bring ear to shoulder 10 times on each side.
- Strengthen. Strengthening neck and upper back muscles can help avoid and reduce neck pain. Following these exercises consistently for four to six weeks can bring about real changes and improvements.
- Superman-lie on stomach, simultaneously raise arms and legs a few inches off the ground. Hold for a few seconds, then relax.
- Hold an exercise band in front of you at shoulder height. Stretch the band across the chest only bending the arms slightly, then return to starting position. This helps strengthen the trapezius and rhomboid muscles.
- Pushups-even if done against a wall, keep neck in neutral position and repeat 10 times for 1-2 sets.
- Ice and heat. Applying ice and heat can be very beneficial in relieving tension. Alternate ice and heat, applying ice for the first 48-72 hours, then switching to heat. Avoid falling asleep with an ice or heat compress in order to avoid any skin injuries.
- Over-the-counter medicines. Pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can be purchased over-the-counter and used to help reduce inflammation and relieve pain.