A stiff neck can be painful and interfere with your daily activities, as well as your ability to get a good night’s sleep. With so many of us gazing into computers or staring down at our smartphones most of the day, it’s no wonder data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nearly 20% of us have experienced neck pain within the past three months. Neck pain rarely starts overnight. It usually evolves over time. And it may be spurred by arthritis or degenerative disc disease, and accentuated by poor posture, declining muscle strength, stress, and even a lack of sleep.
If neck pain is not debilitating and was not caused by trauma, the pain can typically be treated with self-care.
Ice and/or heat: Applying heat may help relax muscles and bring more blood flow and healing nutrients to the injured area. For ice or heat therapy, applications are limited to 15 or 20 minutes with at least a 2-hour break in between to give the skin time to recover.
Stretch: Periodically stopping to stretch is a great way to help prevent getting a stiff neck. Stretches include: Rolling your shoulders back and forth, squeezing your shoulder blades together several times, slowly moving your ear to your shoulder on each side, and slowly turning your head from side to side.
Source: Thomas French.
Take care when you sleep: If your neck is bothering you, you also should pay attention to your sleep positions. Sleep only on your side or on your back, never on your stomach. When you sleep on your stomach, often you will end up twisting your head one way or the other for hours at a time, sleeping on your stomach also can affect your low back because your belly sinks into the bed if you don’t have enough support.
Make some ergonomic adjustments. Position your computer monitor at eye level so you can see it easily. Use the hands-free function on your phone or wear a headset. Prop your tablet on a pillow so that it sits at a 45° angle, instead of lying flat on your lap.
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