We’ve all heard of people who are a pain in the neck. But are you someone who has a pain in the neck?
Last week, I sure did. My neck, and to a lesser degree, shoulders, are my very own personal barometer to my stress level. As my Mom liked to always call it when I was growing up I was “burning the candle at both ends” and my to-do list was almost comically long and virtually impossible to complete. So, just like clockwork, I woke up one morning with a huge crick in my neck and shoulders, and spent a couple of days swiveling in my chair to face someone to talk. Once the work got done and things calmed down, my neck pain magically went away.
Clearly, at least in my case, neck pain can have an emotional or stress-related element to it. And from talking with friends, I know it’s not just happening to me. In fact, a good friend of mine reassured me as I was turning on my patoot so as not to have to move my head too much that Thomas Jefferson often had neck pain. So I guess I was in good company!
Neck pain also has a bunch of physical causes, ranging from poor posture to a crummy desk chair at work. Yes, getting those cute chairs at Ikea for $19 is a lot of fun and they look wonderful but if you’re going to be sitting on something for eight-plus hours a day, be sure it’s ergonomically correct and comfortable, not just cute.
Actually, the workplace is pretty much the number one place to pick up a good case of neck pain. Our bodies weren’t really designed to sit in one spot for extended periods of time typing on a keyboard and staring at a computer screen, but that’s what many of us do day after day. Sitting at a computer or even just at a regular desk can cause neck pain and stiffness as well as shoulder pain.
If you’re slouching down in your chair, it will only add to the potential pain in your neck. Research has found that how we hold our spines while either being active or resting will either help us or harm our muscles and ligaments, nerve tissue and bone. The lumbar of the back and the cervical spine naturally curve, but when we slouch while playing video games for a couple of hours or during a meeting, it reverses these curves and it can lead to discomfort and pain.
You can also get neck pain while you are sleeping, usually because of a mattress and pillows that do not provide proper support. This will put stress on the spine which can not only mess with your sleep but also lead to a painful neck the following morning.
In part two of this article, we’ll look at ways we can prevent neck pain from happening to us.