Does neck pain occasionally (or constantly) plague you? If so, you’re not alone. Almost all adults will suffer from neck strain, stiffness, or pain at some point in their lives. While some neck pain is due to an injury or a degenerative disease, most often it is due to every day (and fixable) behaviors.
Simple things like posture, sleeping position, stretching (including neck traction), and ice, heat, and water can go a long way to improve cervical health. Read on to learn more about these important pieces of taking care of your neck and upper spine area.
- Avoid “Tech Neck”
Maybe you’ve heard the term “tech neck” in the last few years, as mobile device use has exploded. It refers to the unnatural and unhealthy angle at which we hold our necks when looking down at our mobile phones and tablets, and the resulting strain and pain you experience from doing so. Of course, the best remedy to this is to put down your phone more often. If 30 minutes have gone by without you looking up, take a break. Change your position, do some gentle neck rolls, walk around, and let your neck “reset”. If you must look at your phone, try holding it up higher, at eye-level, so you’re not straining your neck looking downward: you’ll even get some extra shoulder and arm work!
Other examples of technology putting a strain on our necks include using a desktop computer or laptop and speaking on the telephone. If you use a computer or laptop, make sure your screen is at eye level; spending the whole workday with your head tilted up or down to see your screen can cause added stress on your discs, joints, and ligaments, leading to long-term damage. Similarly, if you spend a lot of time talking on the phone and often cradle it between your ear and shoulder to keep your hands free, invest in a headset or earphones to avoid straining your neck to the side.
- Drink Plenty of Water
We know being properly hydrated helps our bodies in numerous ways, but you may be surprised to learn it’s important for our spine as well. The discs that separate the vertebrae are made up mostly of water, so staying well hydrated keeps your discs nourished and pliable. Forgetting to drink plenty of water, or overdoing it on caffeine or alcohol, can dehydrate the body and contribute to dehydrated discs, leading to painful compression in the spine over time.
- Sleep Well
Everyone has an opinion on sleep position and what is “best.” Truly, it’s just important to sleep in whatever position is most comfortable for you, so long as your neck is well supported. For back sleepers, you should choose a fairly flat pillow so that the head isn’t thrust up and forward at an unnatural angle, or an orthopedic/foam pillow that offers extra support under the neck and a slight indent for the head. For side sleepers, again it’s important to find a pillow with proper support - not so flat that the top of the head is below chin level, but not so high (above 4-6 inches) so that your spine is awkwardly curved with your ear near your shoulder. And, unless you are a child or are very flexible, sleeping on your stomach with your head turned to the side is rarely a good idea for those who already suffer from neck pain.
4) Heat and Ice
If your neck is in pain, it’s likely that you’ve been told to try ice or heat to help treat the pain and heal the area. Some people swear by one or the other to help with neck and back pain, but using both in tandem is the best course of action. Applying ice to a sore neck will reduce the inflammation in the tissues and will often temporarily help relieve pain. Applying heat will bring essential blood flow to the area to assist with healing and will likely loosen and relax the muscles, as well. For both ice and heat, limit the treatment time to 15-20 minutes and then give your skin a couple of hours to recover before switching and starting again.
5) Stretch Regularly
A great way to keep the neck healthy is to regularly perform gentle stretches to keep it flexible. These stretches are wonderful to perform anytime during the day, especially if you spend a good part of your day seated at a desk.
Sitting (or standing) up tall with your chin parallel to the floor, gently tilt your head to the right, bringing your right ear closer to your shoulder. Go as far as is comfortable and then hold the stretch for about 5 seconds before returning to a neutral position and then switching to the left side.
Another stretch to loosen the upper back and neck — and take a break from sitting at a computer or texting — is shoulder rolls. Sitting up straight, raise both shoulders simultaneously, then roll them backward, down, and back up in a circular motion. Complete a few of these, then switch directions and roll your shoulders forward a few times.
6) Neck Traction
Perhaps the best neck stretch of all is employing neck traction. There is no better way to relax, stretch, and decompress the spine and surrounding muscles and ligaments than to use a neck traction device daily. Many people with different neck complaints can benefit from traction: those who’ve experienced a moderate neck injury, people with poor posture, those with herniated discs or pinched nerves in the upper spine, and people who suffer from spinal spondylosis, spasms, or sprains.
Try the Best Neck Traction Device on the Market
Fisher Traction’s Neck Traction Device utilizes a neck sling attached to a strap that wraps around a door handle. When your head is placed in the sling (while lying on the floor), the Fisher device uses patented Negative G-Force Technology to safely and gently pull the head away from the body, effectively relaxing muscles, alleviating pain, and leading to increased mobility.
The Fisher Neck Traction Device is safe for almost every condition, but if you have a serious neck injury, you may wish to consult your doctor first. If you have tried other neck therapies without success, give daily neck traction a try.
Fisher Traction offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so there’s no risk involved. If you’re interested in combatting the effects of poor posture and gravity on your compressed cervical bones and muscles, learn more about the Neck Traction Device.