One Simple Solution to Neck Pain: Good Posture

Treating and preventing chronic neck pain can often be successfully accomplished by something as simple as adopting correct posture while waking and sleeping. While the pain sufferer can treat the symptoms of frequent neck "cricks" with neck stretch exercises, painkillers or ice applications, the symptoms' root causes must be dealt with differently. These root causes often involve some kind of poor posture, says Dr. Brian Bruel, an assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation on the one hand, and anesthesiology and pain management on the other, at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Posture violators might crouch over a desk all day long, slouch on a sofa while watching TV, or contort themselves while reading.

The ideal strategies to address neck pain from such sources as these is to: --stand, as the cliché goes, "ramrod straight," with ears, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles in a straight line. --keep one's head balanced on top of one's neck. Because the head weighs five to 10 pounds, if it is held too far forward or back, the neck muscles can be strained.--sleep in such a way that the head is aligned with the neck.

"Use pillow rolls to get the neck in that plumb-line position," Bruel says. "Even if you sleep on your side, your neck should not be too far forward." -keep one's head straight and back supported while working at a computer for long periods. "Leaning forward shortens the neck muscles, so when you lie down at night, they're still tight," Bruel says. "We're not made to be all scrunched up all day or all night."


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