Remember that night you passed out on the couch and didn’t wake up until the morning? Or that time you slept awkwardly against the window on the plane for three hours? How did your neck feel afterward?
Sleep-related or not, it’s quite safe to assume almost all of us have experienced neck pain at some point in our lives.
The neck is an incredibly vulnerable part of the body, and a piece of the health puzzle we don’t pay enough attention to. The result: Close to 15 percent of adults suffer from neck pain (it’s more common in women than men).
Sometimes neck pain comes about because of soft tissue injuries to the muscles, tendons or ligaments, other times it’s because of arthritis, disc degeneration or underlying issues like spinal stenosis (https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/spinal-stenosis/cervical-stenosis-myelopathy). And, of course, there’s the old whiplash from a car accident that never seems to want to heal!
But even if none of the above conditions are you, it’s important to take care of your neck at all times, because, as I said, it’s an incredibly vulnerable part of the body, as couch and airplane sleeping continues to show you. And the best way to do this is through a proactive and preventative approach for your neck!
Here’s a guide: 8 simple Tips to prevent neck problems in your future
8. Pillow Talk:
It might be time to lose that giant-ass, poofy pillow you love so much. Generally, the best option is to sleep with a pillow that promotes keeping your spine in a neutral alignment, and usually this means a thinner pillow, unfortunately. This helps support the natural curve in your neck, stopping your neck from being craned into a bad position for hours on end. Another option is to invest the money an orthopaedic pillow, which has a deeper depression where you place your head, supporting your neck in the process.
7. Back sleeping is best:
You have heard it before, but sleeping on your back is the best position for the spine. If you do sleep on your side, it’s best to sleep with a flatter pillow to avoid your neck bending unnaturally.
6. Stop the Lap Laptop-ing:
This might not be something you think about, but keeping your head and neck in a neutral position while working at a computer is super important for neck health, so be sure to keep your computer screen at eye level. You don’t want to be looking down, or up, at the screen. In other words, the days of putting your laptop on your lap should be gonzo!
5. Easy on the Texting:
See above. How often do you text while looking down? Probably more than you think!
Two solutions: Raise your phone as you text and run the risk of looking hilarious, or STOP TEXTING SO MUCH. Neither solution is particularly useful, unfortunately, but neck pain stemming from over-texting is a real thing!
4. Same goes for phone talking:
What do you mean phone talking? Who talks on the phone anymore?
If you’re one of the rare surviving phone talkers, consider using a headset to avoid cradling your phone between your neck and ear for long periods of time.
3. More Magnesium:
Magnesium is great for sleep and it’s also a great muscle relaxant. If you have any muscle strain symptoms at all in your neck, start taking or increase your magnesium intake. It’s also found in high volumes in fruits and vegetables, FYI.
Another option to consider is an epsom salt bath, if you believe in it (the science isn’t 100 percent): The idea being your skin absorbs minerals, including magnesium, from the salts as you bathe. It’s also possible to get magnesium oil and apply it directly to your skin.
2. Take a plunge in the pool:
Not only does swimming feel therapeutic, it’s a great way to reduce inflammation, too. Or so they say. Either way, can’t hurt to swim once a week, right?
1. Hydrate your spine:
Perhaps an odd-sounding one, but drinking enough water also helps hydrate the discs in your spine. They’re made up of a lot of water, so keeping them hydrated helps them remain pliable and strong.
Take your neck seriously, people. It supports your head, and without your head, well, you know…