The neck and back region is prone to many different kinds of stresses. As a result; neck and back pain is a common complaint in young and old alike. However, there are ways to avoid neck and back pain. In this article, we will discuss doctor approved and physiotherapist recommended tips and easy ways to avoid back and neck pain.
1. Try to keep the neck in the neutral position
The neutral position of the neck is one where you do not bend or hunch. So you must try to “walk tall” with your ears aligned directly over your shoulders and your chest up and shoulders back.
2. Do not sit in one position for a long time
This is the easiest way to avoid developing neck and lower/upper back pain. If you do have to sit for prolonged period of time, use correct posture: head neutral, back straight, knees slightly lower than the hips and arms rested (preferably).
3. Avoid reading in bed
This is an invitation to cervical issues. Reading or working on the laptop while sitting in bed can cause neck strain. If you like reading in bed, avoid using too many pillows to prop the head up. If you must, buy wedge pillows or portable mini desk to support the laptop or book. Do not sit in one position for long-try and move every now and then.
4. Check your sleeping position
Your sleeping position can also cause neck, back and shoulder pain.
- You must try to sleep in the supine position flat on the back as far as possible. This will straighten the spine and help you avoid neck and back issues.
- Avoid using a pillow completely- no matter how soft. Pillows cause you to sleep at an angle –too high or too low- causing neck pain.
- It is a good idea to change the pillows from time to time since pillows ‘collapse’ after a while. Invest in a feather pillow (instead of foam types) which conforms better to the shape of your head and neck.
- Never “over-pillow” the neck as it will put pressure on the spine.
- You may sleep on the back or sideways as long as your spine remains straight and your neck remains in the neutral position. This is one of the easy ways to avoid neck and back pain.
- A good bed and mattress can offer much needed support to the back and stop back and neck pain.
- Never sleep on your stomach as your body puts a lot of pressure on the back and neck. If you involuntarily turn on to your stomach at night, you might try using tennis balls or pillows to stop you and help keep you lying on your back.
- People with lower back pain can place pillows under their legs to keep them elevated while sleeping. This is an easy way to avoid back pain.
5. Do some stretches first thing in the morning
Simple stretches like neck rotation (clockwise and anti-clockwise), cat and camel pose Yoga stretch, Cobra pose (Bhujangasan) can also help people suffering from chronic neck and back pain. These are back and neck strengthening exercises which must be done daily.
6. Stay active
People who never indulge in any physical activity or exercise are more likely to experience back and neck pain due to their sedentary lifestyles. So, daily walking, cycling, swimming and jogging are recommended as some of the best ways to avoid neck and back pain.
7. Easy ways to avoid neck and back pain when working at the computer
People who need to work long hours at the computer terminals tend to develop back and neck pain over the years.
- The key is to keep the neck neutral and not hunch over it.
- Adjust the chair, table and computer monitor to a comfortable height.
- Keep your knees lower than the hips. A footstool can be used for the purpose.
- Use the chair’s armrests to support the arms.
- The monitor should be at eye level.
Also use these “ neutral head and neck positions” while driving.
8. Use proper lifting techniques
Avoid bending to lift heavy grocery bags or luggage items. Always bend at the knees and pick up the object. Stand up straight close to the object instead of leaning forward to pick it up. Firmly grasp the object and use your hip and leg muscles instead of back muscles.
9. Avoid carrying heavy items
Avoid carrying heavy items and especially avoid carrying items over one shoulder for long periods.
If your neck or back is hurting now, apply some heat or ice for 15 to 20 minutes and repeat every 45 minutes. If the above easy ways to avoid neck and back pain do not help, consult a physiotherapist or a spine care specialist.