Sometimes, all it takes is just one aching body part to throw off your entire day.
Take neck pain, for example. A stiff neck limits your head’s range of motion, while the pain brought about by the sudden jerking of the head could leave you with a headache, shoulder and back strain.
On the average, neck pain is rarely serious and often goes away on its own after a few days. To make sure you aren’t directly contributing to it, top hospital in the Philippines Makati Medical Center (MakatiMed), through its Department of Orthopaedics, pinpoints the five things you do every day that could be causing your neck pain—and what you can do about them.
Sitting all day. Who would have thought that such a sedentary activity could be the reason behind your aching neck? “Sitting behind a desk leads to postural strain in the neck, back, and shoulders,” says Anne Kathleen Ganal-Antonio, MD. “Prevent muscle strain by standing up, stretching, and walking after long periods of time. Also, practice good posture. Sit up straight, with your feet flat on the floor. If working with a computer, adjust the placement of your monitor and keyboard to a comfortable level.” Dr. Ganal-Antonio added that too much bending down of the neck increases the stress on the neck, leading to pain. It is best to keep the neck in a neutral position.
Exercising. Ironically, even an active lifestyle can give you neck pain. Certain workouts (like crunches or yoga positions) and sports (golf, swimming, cycling) can strain your neck if done poorly or in a wrong position. “Ask your trainer or coach to help you execute the proper form for your workout or sport,” advises Dr. Ganal-Antonio. “You can also ease neck pain with this simple stretch. Facing forward, slowly bend your head to the right. Hold for three seconds, then go back to your starting position and slowly bend your head to the left. Hold for three seconds then go back to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.”
Sleeping the wrong way. Bedtime is supposed to be restful and relaxing—until you wake up after sleeping in a position that strains your neck. “When you sleep on your stomach, your neck is turned to one side. Holding that position for hours strains your neck muscles, giving you that stiff feeling in the morning,” she points out. “Try sleeping on your back with a pillow underneath your knees to relax your lower back, or on your side with a pillow between your legs. The kind of bed or pillow type is a subjective preference.”
“Laying your head on a too-high pillow also strains your neck; replace it with a lower one,” adds Dr. Ganal-Antonio. “Travel pillows for the neck are also helpful as they support your head while you sleep sitting down.” Interestingly the lack of sleep has an indirect effect on the neck. “Sleep is the time when the body repairs itself,” says Dr. Ganal-Antonio. “When you don’t sleep enough, you become sluggish and achy.”
Carrying heavy bags. Besides affecting your posture and the way you walk, lugging a heavy bag strains the trapezius muscle on the top of your shoulder, and affects nearby body parts like the neck and back. “To ease strain on your neck, shoulders, and back, lessen the amount of things inside your bag,” Dr. Ganal-Antonio explains. “Also, look for bags with wide straps because they distribute the weight of your bag over a wider area. Cross-body bags also evenly distribute the weight of your bag. When using backpacks, have this close to your back to provide support. Avoid just using one strap, as this makes the weight and posture uneven.”
Using a smartphone. Whether you’re taking a call with your phone cradled between your ear and shoulder, or are catching up on your social media feeds by looking down at your phone, you can bet your neck’s going to feel the strain later. “We call that text neck,” says Dr. Ganal-Antonio of the latter. “To prevent straining your neck from reading from your phone, take mini-breaks to move and stretch your neck and back, or limit your cellphone use to 20 minutes.” To address the former, he suggests switching your cellphone between your left ear and right ear instead of favoring one side to take the call. “Gentle stretches, a soothing massage, a cold compress for 20 minutes, and over-the-counter pain medication can also alleviate neck pain. But if the pain lasts for more than a week and makes simple movements difficult to do, see your family physician immediately,” says Dr. Ganal-Antonio.
For more information, please contact MakatiMed On-Call at +632 8888 8999, email [email protected], or visit www.makatimed.net.ph.
This is a press release distributed by Buensalido Public Relations