Neck pain and tightness is largely due to incorrect posture and poor position during certain daily activities. By changing lifestyle habits, one can reduce neck pain associated with these habits.
Incorrect Ergonomics (the way you sit) can also contribute to neck and back pain. See end of “Handy Hints” for ways to set up your work station.
- When carrying a heavy object use both arms and hold object close to your middle.
- When sitting, sit as far back as possible on a chair that supports your back. Do not slouch!
- Do not sit in one position for too long a period.
- If you have to spend a long period reading, writing, typing or doing needlework, do shoulder girdle exercises in between.
- Try to not let your shoulders hang forward when sitting, writing or reading.
- When studying at a desk, your book should be at a 45˚ angle in front of you.
- Avoid bending your neck forward over a basin to wash your hair. Rather stand in a shower.
- The height of your work surface is also important. Try to work at a height that you do not have to bend your neck forward.
- Carry your hand bag slung across your shoulders as shown by your therapist.
- Carry your rucksack on both shoulders so distributing the weight.
- When reading in bed there are 2 options:
- Lie on your side with 2 pillows supporting your neck and your book propped up by another pillow.
- If you lie on your back, bend your knees and support your book with pillows on your stomach. Rest your hands with your book on the pillows.
- When sleeping:
- Use a firm sturdy bed with one firm or 2 softer pillows
- Avoid feather pillows. If you must use one then ensure that the base pillow is firm.
- When lying on your side, use 2 pillows to fill the gap between your shoulders and neck. Your neck needs to be supported as well as your head.
- If you lie on your back lie flat and do not rest your head up against the headboard.
- Do not sleep on your stomach as this puts your neck in an awkward position and you will wake up feeling stiff.
- Avoid drafts and working under direct air conditioning.
- Keep neck warmly covered – ear a scarf or polo neck in cold weather.
- Exercise regularly!
Ergonomics at Work
Sitting correctly is important because when you slouch it increases the tension in your neck, shoulders and lower back and it can lead to neck ache, back ache and headaches. Poor sustained posture can also lead to muscle imbalances which will worsen symptoms over time.
Make sure of the following:
- Good chair with proper lower back support – not into the shoulder area.
- Look slightly down and directly at your computer screen.
- Make sure both feet are firmly on the floor – if you are short then get a step to rest your feet on.
- Make sure your forearms are on the desk and parallel with the floor when your shoulders are relaxed
- Do not cross your legs.
- Take breaks at regular intervals and stretch or change position.