Neck pain is a common occurrence in working adults, but if your suffering has reached debilitating levels, it's time to do something about it. Here are just four ways that you can fight back against stiffness, soreness and strain in your neck.
Identify the Problem
Neck pain is often a non-serious problem caused by general muscle strain. For example, if you constantly tilt your head back to monitor forklifts at your construction job, your neck pain might be a repetitive motion injury. On the other hand, your neck pain might have a more complex cause like osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. You might also be experiencing nerve compression from a herniated disk putting pressure on the vertebrae of your spine. If aspirin and a hot water bottle just aren't hitting the spot, consider a more specialized course of action for your particular neck pain. For example, osteoarthritis in the neck is sometimes treated with a cervical collar to relieve pressure.
Perform Neck Exercises
There are a number of stretches that can help you treat tenseness and stiffness in the neck. The most basic are things like "shoulder rolls" designed to loosen the muscles of your upper body and encourage blood flow to places where it might be pinched, but you can also get more intense with yoga poses like marjariasana (cat pose) and bitilasana (cow pose). When held and released for 10-20 seconds at a time, these poses can help you relieve the pressure being put on your neck from daily activities. They'll soothe the inflammation of tender, overworked cartilage by increasing your circulation. They'll also teach you deep breathing techniques that can assist you with pain management during a flare-up.
Take a Soak
Hydrotherapy is the art of using water for physical pain relief. While this can take the form of showers and baths, the most effective kind of hydrotherapy for neck pain comes from a hot tub. Not only will the heat of the water simulate blood flow by dilating your blood vessels, but the jets and streams can also be used to massage specific areas of discomfort. Some companies, such as Rocky Mountain Hot Tub Company, know that they'll work the tissue until it loosens and stops being so stiff and inflamed. Soaking in general is good for overworked, overexerted muscles because its buoyancy will take the pressure off your joints, leaving you to float with a weightless feeling after hours on the job or in pain. Instead of holding your head up, your neck can relax against a padded pillow while jets massage all of the strain and stiffness from your body.
Improve Your Diet
The best way to stop neck pain is to prevent it from happening at all, and the right diet can be an effective tool against bone and joint problems. For example, getting your recommended daily value of omega-3 fatty acids can lower the inflammatory chemicals in your body. Calcium is good for bone health, including the vertebrae in your neck that can suffer wear and tear after years of twisting, rolling and bending. Magnesium is important for the contraction and relaxation of muscle groups, so if you're using those neck exercises outlined above, you can give their performance a natural boost by eating magnesium-rich foods. While there's no miracle cure for neck pain to be found in your pantry, the right menu can act as a supplement for additional courses of relief.
These are just a few ways to keep yourself from wincing whenever you raise your chin. Whether you're an engineer hunched over a computer or a busy mom always turning her head to keep track of her children, let these tips help you with the stiffness and soreness of a painful neck.