For all you device-addicted “text neck” sufferers out there, we feel your pain, and this one’s for you:
- Find grass
- Lay down a scarf
- Lie down, face up
- If trees above, observe trees
- If sky above, observe above
n.b. avoid sunburn or ant-induced injuries
– The Daily Massage
A sore or stiff neck can occur for a few reasons, and is most commonly caused by muscle weakness coupled with muscle overuse, and strain from poor posture. There are more serious reasons for a stiff neck such as sports injury or trauma, meningitis, bone disorders or herniated cervical discs. For more information on these potentially dangerous illnesses, read on here.
For those of you who have slept funny, or get regular bouts of neck pain or “text neck” (looking down at your phone/device for prolonged periods of time.) Or those who carry heavy handbags, shopping bags or messenger bags as part of life, this one’s for you too.
Travelling can be a major player in neck pain troubles. Sitting in cars/trains/buses/planes for hours on end, whilst intermittently lugging a strew of unevenly heavy baggage with you everywhere, topped with disturbed sleeping patterns and I’m not even going to start with the stress of it all.
Stress will exasperate any condition you already have. So if you have a tense area that’s not in great shape, becoming stressed will only make things worse. Being a massage therapist, I hear the stories and see the evidence of what a lot of travelling, computer usage, heavy baggage hauling, and accumulated stress can do to a persons muscular system. It’s painful, expensive to treat and requires some smart lifestyle changes on behalf of the client.
Not every case is the same, so without knowing exactly how each person acquired their particular neck pain, advice can be challenging. However, there are some fairly common bad habits that bind a lot of neck pain sufferers, and if you’re guilty of one or more of these activities, it might have a lot to do with your neck pain:
Problem: Carrying stuff
Solution: Get real with yourself
Now this is quite serious, because we live in a society of stuff. All this stuff, a lot of which is not necessary, but we deem necessary, and then we suffer for it. Don’t get me wrong, there is stuff we have to take with us, but if you really only took the essentials, your whole life would be a whole lot lighter.
Shoutout to handbag carriers and hardcore travellers: Take the necessities only. Consider using a small, trendy if you must, backpack that spreads the weight evenly between both shoulders for everyday use. If we’re talking airport travel, a small suitcase on wheels is your best option. Those big ole’ fashionable Louis Vuitton-inspired shoulder bags crammed with everything you think you might need to take onboard with you, are not doing you any good at all.
If you have kids in school, make sure they head out with a light load everyday. Studies have shown the disastrous effects of what years of carrying heavy book bags does to a growing humans spine.
“We believe that traveling with a minimal amount of stuff helps you enjoy the trip more, but that you shouldn’t feel like an ascetic if you don’t want to. A bag in the 40- to 60- litre range has room for all your essentials, leaving some breathing room for souvenirs, creature comforts, and personal gear. For any extended travel, the key is this: You can’t bring it all with you. So don’t. You’ll have to do laundry, so bring a week’s worth of clothes or less. Literally no one will notice if you wear the same shirt twice in one week. Nearly every place you go will have laundry.” – The Wire Cutter’s website review on travel backpacks.
To read more, and for an extensive review on the types of travelling backpacks which could save your back and neck, this article is all you need – The Best Travel Backpack
Problem: Waking up with a sore neck.
Solution: Adjust your pillow situation.
If you’re waking up with a worse neck pain than when you went to sleep, your pillows are likely to blame. The typical culprit is doubling your pillows up, and unfortunately we don’t have control of our movements when we’re deep in sleep, meaning we can get ourselves into some pretty muscle-shredding positions. Ever woken up with an arm so dead it takes half the day to recover? This angers me, surely the body should be able to detect poor blood flow and make you shift positions? It’s utter betrayal! Come on evolution. Do better.
If you’re interested in investing in a new set of ergonomic pillows, BPillow has a great review page of all the latest and greatest comfort pillows specifically designed for reducing neck pain throughout the night. There’s an informative video by Dr. Mandell towards the end of the article, give it a watch for some medical insight. Alternatively, you can visit a physio centre, as they will be able to treat your specific case and recommend the ideal pillow for your situation.
Problem: “Text neck”
Solution: Be aware. Then edit your routine.
The modern age where smartphones, tablets and laptops conquer a vast majority of modern society was bound to have it’s downfalls. We use these devices to socialise, to work, to play, to be entertained, to discover, to learn, and to stay updated. The issue is, a lot of us are abusing it all. I could get all profound and soul-searching right now, but let’s stick to the topic at hand. Oh, and I’m far from innocent, I’ve been addicted to my computer for many years. I probably spend half of my life on my laptop, and the second half sleeping, or eating. I’m sure the percentages are not quite exact here, but you get the gist.
Basically, we need to do less of this:
And more of this:
Definitely less of this:
And way more of this:
Skip this every so often:
To spend more money on this:
Cut this crap out:
THIS is a real date:
I know a lot of our realities require us to have our heads, hands and even hearts in our devices, but the trick is to be aware. Be aware of the amount of consecutive hours you spend on something without getting up to stretch or take a walk, or just, take a break. Be aware of your body and what muscles are feeling tense, the position of your butt, your shoulders, your head, eyes, neck. Are you in a fairly ergonomic position? Can you improve your office set-up?
Take 5 deep breaths each time you sit down to work. With each breath, let yourself naturally relax into a more balanced position. Take a few moments before you inhale and after you exhale, this allows your body to make minor adjustments. This is a great trick for stopping shoulder tension in it’s tracks. You’ll notice that with each breath, your shoulders will drop, loosening up, and you’ll feel more grounded and less stressed. It’s like a mini reset button without having to reboot the whole system.
At the very least, I hope you can take some inspiration from this blog to be more aware of your stress levels, physical posture and what’s truly important. At most, I hope you find a cure for your neck pain, if you happen to suffer from it. May you never curse fashion, or old pillows, or the electronic age for your neck pains ever again!
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