Have you ever had a slight pain in the neck but didn’t really think it was a big deal, especially if you knew it was because you slept awkwardly? Yes? I thought so. I hear this quite often from my clients when they first come in to see us – they’ll mention the annoying pain that’s going on in their neck when it comes to the end of their session because 9 times out of 10, they think it’s something that will “just go away” on it’s own.
But here’s the thing – it doesn’t always “just go away”! Think of your neck like this: Your neck supports one of the most vital parts of your body – the skull and the brain. Not forgetting that the top of your neck is where your nerves begin. Now ask yourself this – do you still want to brush off that neck pain you’ve woken up with this morning? I thought not.
Some of the main reasons as to why we shouldn’t brush off neck pain is because we all have ways in which we make it worse. We don’t mean to, but sometimes our lifestyle just gets in the way! Have you had your hair done recently? It can often be an enjoyable experience, but have you ever considered how your neck feels? When you’re getting your hair washed make sure the chair and basin are adjusted accordingly. The seats are meant to adjust for a reason!
Also, sometimes it can take a while to wash your hair, especially if they’re giving your hair a treatment too. So how do we get past this? Next time ask for the basin and chair to be adjusted accordingly. Regardless of how long you are going to be washing your hair for, each minute matters. Maybe you’re a keen swimmer? I always recommend swimming as it’s great for your joints, however the type of swimming you do can sometimes have an effect on your body.
If you like to swim in a front crawl position, then be aware of your neck. Turning your neck constantly, creating a repetitive motion can take its toll on your neck. It’s sometimes possible to over-use muscles and tendons in the neck so take extra care. Next time you go swimming, try alternating your swimming type to a breast-stroke position. If you really must do front crawl however, try to go a little slower.
Been to the cinema or to see a show recently? Another way in which you can often get neck pain is by putting your neck in an awkward position for a long period of time. Next time at the cinema, think to yourself, are you looking up at the performance, or straight ahead? If so, try and get a seat further back, so that the performance is at eye level.
Not only will this ease neck pain but it will also allow you to focus and enjoy the performance more! The above also goes for book and tech lovers too. If you’re looking at your phone or reading a book for a long period of time then you may start to feel the strain on your neck too. After a hard day at work, your bed can sometimes feel as if you’re being greeted with a big hug as you get in bed and sleep snug. However, how many of you have woken up to neck pain, so much that you can’t phyiscally turn your head? Me too. If this happens to you quite often, or more often than you would like, then try changing your pillow to one that allows more support.
This tends to be why we get neck pain when we sleep. If your neck doesn’t have the support for your head then your neck will feel as if it’s in an unnatural position and as a result, causes a stiff neck in the morning. If you do have a stiff neck in the morning, to the extent that you can’t move it in a particular direction (i.ei left or right) then please don’t drive. Not only will this make it harder to drive, you may also make your neck pain worse with quick movements! Many of the above things we do in our every day life and it can’t be helped. Only now that we have identified how neck pain can be caused, can we adjust our routines accordingly.
The author, Jennifer Penrose, is a Physical Therapist and owner of Penrose Physical Therapy. If you have any questions about neck and shoulder pain or headaches, you can call on (360) 456-1444 or email jennifer@ penrosept.com