Got a pain in the neck that just won’t quit? This trio of simple actions will put you on the fast track to freedom from distress:
Practice the complete breath. This yoga exercise opens up airways and is a surefire way to relax and soothe the sore muscles in your neck. Visit the American Yoga Association's website for the how-to.
Keep your work at eye level. Looking down or reaching up for long periods of time is guaranteed to give you a sore neck. Adjust the height of your desk, chair, or computer monitor so that you’re looking straight at the screen. If you do a lot of reaching up — for instance, to pull supplies from shelves — use a stool, stepladder, or elevated platform to bring you even with your targets.
Change your habits. Poor posture puts a huge strain on neck muscles. So do seemingly innocent activities, such as washing your hair in the sink, cradling a phone receiver between your ear and your shoulder, or falling asleep in a chair and winding up with your head at an awkward angle. Identify and change behavior patterns that keep your neck in unnatural positions for any length of time. And for Pete’s sake, do what your mother (or your drill sergeant) always told you: Stand — and sit — up straight!
While it’s true that most neck pain is the direct result of stress and muscle tension, it can be a sign of far more serious trouble. Make a mad dash to the ER in any of these instances:
- The problem was caused by a fall or other accident.
- The pain radiates down your arms and legs.
- Your neck discomfort is accompanied by a headache, numbness, tingling, or weakness.
- Your vision is disturbed in any way.