If you tuned in last week, you remember we went over the anatomy of the neck and how each part can become a pain in the neck. For today lets go over how to prevent this and how to get back to good.
Any belly sleepers out there? Sleeping on your stomach is comfy, especially in the winter. (This keeps your organs warm as they are pressed against the bed) The problem is to sleep on your stomach is you have to crane your neck to the side. This is not healthy and can cause a bone to go out of place. (Or as most say a ‘kink’ in you neck) And what about those who can drive, talk on the phone and have a snack all at the same time? Not only are they a danger to the road, they are probably cradling the phone between their shoulder and ear. That can really strain the muscles in your neck.
What makes it worse is we usually use the same ear every time we are on the phone. This imbalance is a recipe for trouble. Another way we mistreat our neck is looking up or down all day long. For the lion’s share of the day, our necks are set up for movement and to relax in the neutral position.
Stretch and strengthen your body. Everybody can get hurt or get sick. But if you are strong and limber you’re less likely to get injured and more likely to get better faster. This is the armor you protect yourself with and the internal health insurance you can do for yourself. Whether you go all out and start up your own yoga practice or just get going with some simple stretches at your desk. It’s important to just get started.
The question of should I use ice or heat often comes up. Ice is a good way to calm down all that inflammation in your neck. Heat can relax sore muscles, but heat can be a little tricky. If you have an area that’s inflamed and you apply heat to it. You are bringing more blood to that area and making it worse. Just think when you go out in the sun your face turns red. The heat is causing more blood run to your hot face. So if you apply a hot pad to an inflamed neck that heat might feel good while it’s on your neck. (Heat has a pleasant numbing effect) But in the long run your healing time has increased. So when in doubt I would recommend ice for 20 minutes at a time with 40 minute breaks in-between.
If you have a pain in the neck and it’s not going away there are people out there who can help. If a muscle is at the heart of the problem, a massage may be in order here. (I really had to twist your arm for that suggestion, right) A physical therapist can get you started on a stretching and strengthening program. And a chiropractor can restore motion and get your neck lined up like it’s supposed to be.
Often people feel betrayed by their bodies when things aren’t running like a well-oiled machine. But with all the abuse and wear and tear we put our bodies through, we should marvel at how often our body gets it right.