Having poor posture is just one of the myriad reasons you can develop neck pain. It may be a simple task to recognize that you have poor posture, but it is rarely simple to correct it. For most people the bulk of their day is spent at work, so it makes sense to start assessing your posture as you sit at your desk, stand behind a counter, or carry heavy building supplies on site.
At your desk, or terminal, check to see if you are always looking down with your chin to your chest in order to see the screen. Conversely, you may have to strain your neck upwards to get a clear view. Ideally your screen should be at such an angle that you can keep your back straight and eyes forward at all times. Consider raising or lowering your chair, or the screen itself if this is not the case so that the top third of the screen is at a level with your eyes and the screen itself is around 18-24inches from your head.
Taking Breaks and Stretching
Another problems is that people rarely take breaks from their work and end up sitting or standing for hours at a time in the same position, thereby reinforcing poor posture or overtaxing certain muscles whilst leaving others to waste away. Take regular breaks, walk around, do some simple neck exercises to release tension and get the circulation going and recognize any particular strains in order to work out why they are developing. A little impromptu office yoga never hurt anyone. Perhaps you can even get the rest of the staff to join in. If you are watched like a hawk by your boss then the simple stretch of letting your head drop back over your neck and squeezing your shoulders together for thirty seconds or so can do wonders to relieve tension.
If your job involves heavy lifting or repetitive movements, particularly if it’s in a cold working environment, then make sure that you have adequate safety protection, effective clothing and support, and discuss any worries with your employer who may be unaware of the potential problems and will likely want to avoid any possible claims against them on health and safety grounds. Taking frequent breaks to allow the muscles to relax is particularly important in these types of work, and ensuring that you have a strong set of core muscles in the abdomen and back can prevent sudden strain being felt in the rest of the body.
Sleep and Neck Pain
Unfortunately, poor posture while we sleep can even be the culprit when it comes to neck pain. If you are aware that you often sleep at an awkward angle and wake with a crick in the neck, stiffness, and pain, then invest in a good quality neck pain pillow (click link to view pillows for neck pain), or even consider replacing the one that is oozing stuffing with a newer model that has a bit more spring in its step. Ideally, the head should not have to tilt up or down when sleeping on your side, with the pillow essentially ‘filling’ the gap between the bed and your head that forms naturally when you lie in this position.
Slumping in front of the television can also wreak havoc with your neck, especially as it is easy to get engrossed in a programme only to find that your arm has gone to sleep and you have excruciating neck pain when you try to sit up. If that sounds familiar then think about using a travel pillow to prop up the neck when watching television, or change the chair that you sit in to one that provides more support for the whole of the back. Squishy sofas and comfy couches may look inviting but are usually very unsupportive and a common cause of neck and back discomfort. Other common triggers for poor posture include tension whilst driving, ‘reader’s neck’, neck pain from your smartphone, alongside ‘computer neck’, and even altered breathing patterns and posture when texting (‘Text Neck’) or using the phone which can cause neck pain.
Poor Posture Puts Extra Pressure on the Neck
For general good posture keep your shoulders back, head straight, chest pushed slightly out and the pelvis in line with the spine so that your core muscles are doing their job of distributing weight correctly around the body. By tilting your head forward even an inch the relative weight of your head as supported by your neck increases by 10lbs. Over time, this extra pressure can tire the muscles, cause chronic neck pain, and alter the neck structures themselves causing permanent damage. Pressure on the intervertebral discs, spinal stenosis, abnormal muscle tone, and osteophyte growth may occur which makes the posture even more difficult to correct. Instability of the muscles in the neck, through poor posture or a particular injury or condition of the spine, can cause head, neck, jaw, and shoulder pain. If cervical spinal stenosis occurs then this may lead to radicular pain in the arms or hands, with numbness, weakness, and paraesthesia. Respiratory problems are also connected with poor posture.
If you struggle to maintain good posture and need some pointers from a professional then finding a qualified physical therapist, chiropractor, or Alexander Technique practitioner nearby could help you to devise a treatment plan to conquer neck pain. If you rely on pain-relief medications for chronic intermittent neck pain then the cause could be poor posture and the correction of this may allow you to discontinue medications such as NSAIDs. Even for those with chronic conditions that can cause neck pain and stiffness, such as cervical arthritis, fibromyalgia, and ankylosing spondylitis, discussing postural correction with your physician may help to alleviate some of the tension in your neck and allow you a brief respite from neck pain.
Please take a look at our Neck Pillow Products page if you are interested in trying out a neck pillow. There are plenty of testimonials once you click on the actual neck pillow link.