“My neck hurts so bad but I’ve not done anything?” This is a phrase we hear a lot when people are hit by a bout of neck pain without any attributable cause, no rhyme or reason… or is there? Neck pain can happen for a lot of reasons but it certainly seems to be a plague of the modern world, or to be more specific, it’s ubiquitous in the “sedentary sector.” I’m talking about the jobs that involve either your entire or the majority of your working day sat in a chair. Many of us have to sit A LOT and prolonged time fixed in that position can cause a buildup of tension overtime that eventually leads to aches and pains.
Picture this day…
Wake up sit down to eat breakfast
Get in the car sit down to drive to work
Get to work and sit down for most of the day
Get in car and sit to drive back home
Sit down to watch some TV
Sit down to eat dinner
Now don’t get me wrong or freak out here. It’s not that you need to be afraid of sitting, it’s not that sitting is inherently bad at all, it’s just that when your ratio of sitting to moving is so out of whack, so ridiculously unbalanced it can lead to issues. It’s no different really to losing balance in any other area of life: eat too much and don’t move enough = weight gain. You don’t suddenly balloon, it happens gradually over time if you don’t respect the balance.
Sitting > Moving = Aches / pains
The question is then “what can I do to stop this?” I’m glad you asked and the answer isn’t that you need to never sit down again. Here are your 3 easy ways to prevent neck pain before it comes calling.
1) Break it Up
Person A: Sits 4 hours – Gets up to move when neck is killing him/her
Person B: Sits for 4 hours – Gets up for 1 minute every 20 minutes
Imagine you’re at the gym doing an exercise. If you push to the failure rep you’re not going to be able to go again at the same weight for a while without decent rest period. But, if you stop the set before it gets tough, you can get back in and keep going fairly easily. Think of prolonged sitting as reps. The longer you’re there the more reps you’re racking up. The point where it starts to feel sore is when you hit to failure rep. I call this “sub-maximal sitting” i.e. don’t sit to your pain point where you feel really sore. Get up before you’re sore! Breaking up those long stints with just a few minutes can work wonders.
2) Reverse Your Posture
Think about the position your body tends to slump into when you’re sitting, when you’re texting, on the computer. If we’re talking for now just about the neck and upper back it usually results in:
Forward head posture – “pokey chin”
Looking down – “texter’s neck”
Rounded back – “hunch back”
So tissues (everything from muscles, ligaments, joints) are being stressed in that fixed position, imagine bending your finger back, keep it there, keep it there! Starting to feel not so great right? What if we pull your finger now into the opposite position? Starts to feel better. You have just successfully completed a reverse posture drill and you can do the same exact thing with your neck. So here are a few techniques that can help…
3) Find Your Movement Mojo
Why do I say this? One it just sounds cool and appealing, two “exercise” just turns so many people off straight away. But finding your movement mojo is an art. What one person loves, another one will hate. The gym just isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and that’s fine! The aim of the game is to find something fun where you’re moving rather than sitting. Yoga, Pilates, Hiking, Irish Dancing, whatever! We’re trying to rectify that imbalanced ratio of sitting : moving to prevent those nasty aches and pains. Movement needs to be a habit like brushing your teeth but if it’s seen as a chore you’re less likely to do it. That’s why it’s important that you find something you actually enjoy, consistency is king!
So there you have it, 3 simple ways you can use right now to help stop neck pain from creeping up on you! For more information and guidance on how you can prevent or resolve neck pain contact us today or you can book online using our booking portal below.