Tired of ongoing Neck Pain? Do you find yourself trying to get a neck massage all the time? Here are 5 things that can help you:
1. Check your pillow. Is your pillow the right shape, height & firmness for you? The right shape depends on your sleeping posture. If you sleep mainly on your back then a thin, flat pillow is usually best. If you sleep mostly on your side, then a concave pillow is best. The pillow’s job is to support your head in alignment with the rest of your spine. If your neck is tilting on an angle to compensate for an incorrect pillow, then it will be putting strain on your neck. Your neck on the pillow should be in a “neutral” position, meaning the slight curve of your neck is not changed or is bent at an odd angle.
Before you go to sleep, just remember to check your neck. If you’re a side sleeper, is your pillow taking up the space between your head and mattress without tilting your head? If so, you have a supportive pillow. If you’re a back sleeper, you shouldn’t feel any sort of incline or decline when you lay your head down, otherwise, your pillow isn’t doing its job.
A few more tricks to try:
* Try a memory foam pillow that will shape itself to the contours of your head and neck.
* If you’re using a feather pillow, make sure to replace it every year, as the feathers will become less supportive over time.
* Try to avoid sleeping on your stomach, which can be rough on your spine, because it arches the back and keeps your neck turned to the side.
2. Check your driving posture. Are you craning your neck forward as you drive? This can cause a great deal muscle tension. Your neck should be in a neutral position, that is the back of your head in line with the rest of your spine. Your car head rest ideally supports your head in this position. We just need to remember to use it. If you keep forgetting, place a sticky-note on the back on your sun visor to remind you to use your head rest.
3. Do Range of Motion exercises. They are simple, quick and effective. All you do is take your neck gently through it’s usual range of motion That is, slowly looking over your right shoulder, then your left. Tilting your head to look at your feet, then slowly upwards to look directly above your head. Then moving to place your right ear to your right shoulder, then your left. Make sure you’re not pushing through restriction or pain. Stop the movement at that point. These exercises are quick and you can do them anywhere, multiple times a day if you like. A simple time to remember to do them is when you stop at a red traffic light.
4. Check your sitting posture. Yes, most of us have our heads tilted for too long looking at devices and screens. You would benefit from checking how your head is tilted, and looking straight ahead most of the time. Yes, that may mean holding a screen at eye level and look strange, or not looking at the screen for a time. But you won’t suffer for it. Your neck may suffer if you don’t though.
5. If you still have neck pain after following the above advice for at least 2 weeks, it’s time to see a professional. If you’re not keen on chiropractic, osteopathy, physio or myotherapy. Or if you’ve already given those therapies a good try and still have neck pain. Or want to try something else. It’s time to try Acupuncture. An excellent acupuncturist may be able to help. At Freedom Chinese Medicine in Ivanhoe we have 5 excellent acupuncturists. We are open 6 days per week, til 8pm every weeknight and 9am – 5pm every Saturday. Click here to read more or book online.
Dr Elaine Hickman
B.H.Sc.TCM (Acupuncture), Cert.Cl.Ac. (Beijing)
Elaine has trained and worked in various settings, both in Australia and China. She has over 20 years experience in treating many health problems. Elaine loves to provide a health care experience for people that is respectful, effective, empowering and enjoyable. Elaine’s acupuncture treatments are gentle, powerful, amazingly relaxing and incorporate Japanese & Chinese techniques, as well as Medical Qi Gong if appropriate.
She runs a private practice in Ivanhoe and is the trusted family physician of many. Elaine is a registered Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). She completed a Bachelor of Health Science – TCM, majoring in Acupuncture, and a hospital internship in China in 1998. Elaine is the Principal Practitioner at Freedom Chinese Medicine, managing a dedicated team of practitioners & staff, and supervises many TCM students in clinical training. Elaine’s passion for Chinese Medicine has her regularly furthering her education, Qi Gong training and sharing knowledge.