11 Things You Can Do To Help Save Your Neck
By Mha Atma S Khalsa, DC
Neck pain and stiffness, like many other symptoms, are your body's way of telling you that something in your life is out of balance and needs attention. When we are willing to listen to our body, look at our life, and get the message, we can make the changes that will help us feel better, and our lives will improve. While it's not always easy to figure out what the message is, you may well find the answer(s) among the following points:
1. Exercise! Neck pain and stiffness as well as many other symptoms are often a result of poor physical conditioning combined with physical and emotional stress. Exercise improves conditioning and relieves stress. Take at least 10 minutes every day to do stretching exercises, concentrating on stretches for the neck, back and shoulders. Spend a minimum of 30 minutes three times per week walking briskly or doing some other form of aerobic exercise (like biking or swimming). An especially helpful neck exercise to do regularly is the chin tuck.
2. Improve your diet. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet with lots of fresh vegetables and fruit, nuts, healthy protein (wild salmon, grass-fed organic animal protein) and less refined and processed foods (like sugar, bread, chips, boxed cereals and more) will result in better health and, for many folks, less neck pain. Reducing caffeine consumption often results in less neck tension and stress.
3. Take anti-inflammatory supplements. Many nutritional substances can aid in reducing inflammation and in promoting healing of muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, and other soft tissues. They include vitamin D, fish oil (or other omega-3 sources such as flaxseed oil), magnesium and botanicals (especially ginger and turmeric).
4. Learn to relax. Neck stiffness and pain are often caused or aggravated by stress and by habitual physical and mental tension. Yoga, meditation, and other stress-releasing activities can help.
5. Improve your posture and body mechanics. Pay attention to your neck when you:
6. Talk on the phone. Don’t hold the phone between your ear and shoulder!
7. Sleep. Don’t sleep on your stomach, and use a cervical pillow that will give good neck support.
8. Read or sit at your computer. Avoid spending long periods of time with your neck bent forward or twisted to one side.
9. Stand and walk. Imagine a string attached to the top of your head, with the other end attached to a huge helium balloon that floats your head up, maintaining a proper and relaxed neck curve.
10. Take care of your mental health. Work on acknowledging and dealing with the emotional challenges, stresses, and discomforts of your life, which typically cause neck pain and other physical symptoms when suppressed or ignored. Just like physical health, good emotional health for most of us is the product of an ongoing effort, which could include talking more with loved ones and close friends, keeping a journal, prayer and meditation, and/or working with a good psychotherapist.11. See your chiropractor! Abnormal spinal function can result from neglect of any of the above important aspects of life. Chiropractic treatment helps restore balance and relieve nerve irritation and stress as you work to improve the quality of your life style. Even when you do change habits that have contributed to your problems, chiropractic is often necessary to release spinal blockages and irritated nerves left over from past bad habits. And we all have a certain amount of physical and emotional stress that is an inevitable part of life. Chiropractic treatment restores spinal balance, helping us to cope and to stay healthy in the face of those ongoing challenges. Scientific research is rapidly accumulating that validates what we've known for many years--chiropractic is the most effective AND cost-effective treatment available for neck pain