Have you ever wondered why you suddenly suffer from neck pain? Wonder not since it happens for a reason, and the usual reason behind it is bad posture. Bad posture can strain the muscles on your back and neck. It can cause a muscle spasm, frozen shoulders, and a list of other muscle pain. You can endure pains, but the pain in your neck can be uncomfortable that it would even affect your mobility. Turning your head left or right can be done slowly, but making a conscious effort not to make a sudden head turn is merely impossible. Thus, the jerking pain on your neck and the extreme discomfort that it can cause you.
It would be easy to say that if bad posture is the reason behind stiff necks or pain in your neck, correcting your posture would be the most obvious remedy. However, gaming seven or eight hours a day can strain your neck muscle. But can you tell a gamer to stop gaming? Of course not. If you are working on your computer, gawking at it eight or more hours a day, you will probably suffer muscle pain. Some occupations would even require spending 12 up to 16 hours a day in front of your computer. So, if you are hunching over a long period, it follows that your neck muscle would surely take the beating.
But what are the long-term effects of back head posture?
Forward head posture for ten hours a day and more hours on some days can already cause muscle strain on your neck. But aside from the obvious and immediate effect, bad head posture also has long-term harmful effects. The following are some effects that you would want to avoid.
- You may suffer from muscle imbalance. Straining your neck muscle does not only give you muscle pain in your neck, but it can also affect your back, shoulder, and chest muscles. Bad postures can make your muscles elongated and weak. Keeping a bad posture for a long time will lead to muscle imbalances.
- It can increase your risk of bone degeneration in your spine. Hunching and gawking forward for extended periods every day can take a tool to your neck muscle and your cervical spine. The discs on your spine, some joints, and vertebrae may weaken that could increase your chances of developing degenerative spine problems and possibly even cervical osteoarthritis.
- It can reduce your mobility. Straining your neck muscle can decrease your neck’s motion and range due to stiff neck or extreme discomfort from neck muscle strain.
What can lousy posture do to your body?
Head forward posture does not only strain your neck muscle. Prolonged head forward posture places your head further in front of your shoulders, causing several problems like the following:
- It can increase stress on your cervical spine. Your neck is positioned as to where it should be since proper positioning of the neck means getting the right support. However, hunching your neck forward can stress not just your neck muscle but your cervical spine as well.
- Hyperextension and hyperflexion can occur in your upper and lower cervical spine, respectively. The stress can alter the cervical spine’s position due to the lengthening of the spine curve, leading to spinal canal distancing from the base of your skull and the base of your neck. This position will stretch the nerves in your neck that can cause extreme discomfort and affect your mobility.
- Hunching your head forward would also result in a hunched shoulders, which strains your neck and shoulder muscles.
- Bad posture and hunching can overwork your neck muscles that can lead to muscle imbalance.
How to avoid neck pain?
Since bad posture is the cause of your muscle pain, knowing how to avoid it is the only way to keep your neck free from pain. Here are some ways to avoid straining your neck muscle.
- Adjust your computer monitor at eye level and get a good computer chair with a headrest to support your back and rest your head.
- Take frequent breaks at least every hour. Gawking and hunched at your computer for two or three hours seem easy, but some work would require eight hours or even 15. It means that you are burning time sitting down for long hours.
- Stopovers after some hours will give you a nice break from long drives. You can also do stretching and neck exercises.
- Use neck support or neck pillow when traveling, and use comfortable pillows to provide adequate neck support when sleeping.
- Neck manipulation is also an excellent way to ease the pain. Stretching is good, but a visit to a chiropractor for a neck manipulation works well as well.
Stretches That You Can Do At Home
Here are some stretches that you can try at home to ease pain and avoid a stiff neck.
- Shoulder rolls backward and forwards for at least ten times can help lessen shoulder and neck muscles.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades slowly and release it. Try it at least ten times to help ease muscle strain.
- Bend your head forward and push your head backward and hold for 30 seconds or so.
- Slowly bring your ear to your shoulder and hold for 30 seconds. Could you do it ten times on each side?
For minor neck pain, you may be quick to take pain relievers, but other ways can help you ease neck muscle pain without popping a pill. Here are some remedies that you can try.
- Apply cold or hot compress in the painful neck area. You can use cold pads and heating pads for the cold and hot compress, but a good hot bath instead of a hot compress will also do. However, try not to apply the cold and hot compress on your skin directly, but place a towel layer first to avoid skin injury.
- Calm your muscles by regular stretching. No matter how busy you are, standing up and stretching for two to three repetitions at least every two hours will be a great help.
- Avoid jerking or quick movements on your stretching exercises. Keep it slow and relax. Remember that you are trying to ease your muscle strain and not to add to it.
- Neck and head exercise repetitions will help ease your neck muscles. Learn back stretching exercises as well since your back muscle is most probably strained from the wrong posture.
- Ask the help of your partner for a few minutes of a good back rub and neck massage. But a visit to a spa will surely give you a much-needed relaxation.
- Check your mattresses, pillows, and bed. Firm mattresses are suitable for your back, and orthopedic pillows can also give your neck good support.
- A visit to a chiropractor for neck manipulation will also help you ease neck muscle pain. However, you should visit licensed chiropractors since nick manipulation can be risky if not done by a licensed professional.
Therapies for your neck pain
You don’t have to endure pain, and you could not also wish that stiff necks will go away on its own. You also don’t need to immediately resort to taking pain relievers since it can negatively affect your health. What you can do, however, is to explore alternative modalities to ease neck muscle pains. Here are some therapies that you may want to consider.
- TENS or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, uses low electrical impulses to relieve neck muscle pain.
- A visit to your physical therapist can help you correct bad posture. Chiropractors can also do neck manipulation to release stress from your nerves. Chiropractic practitioners can again do neck spine alignment and offer you tips for neck strengthening.
- Traction is another modality that uses weight to pull and stretch your neck. However, don’t just go to anyone for neck traction since it must be performed by a licensed professional.
- Short-term immobilization or soft neck collar to take the stress off your neck and support your neck muscle is also an excellent way to ease neck muscle pain.
Prolonged and not corrected bad posture may even lead to spine problems that pain relievers and therapies may not be enough to ease the pain. Hence, surgery and steroid injections may be necessary for some neck pain cases. However, it is to note that before you resort to an invasive treatment like surgery, explore different therapies first. Regular visits to the spa and consultation with your physical therapist or chiropractor to help ease the pain. Your chiropractor can do neck manipulation and even train you good neck, head, and shoulder exercises to ease muscle pains.
Now that you know that bad posture can make you hunch your head and neck forward, be conscious of doing necessary stretching and exercises. Don’t endure the pain since there are ways to avoid it in the first place.