Neck pain is on the rise. We’re spending far more time these days staring at computer screens, hunched over our smartphones or swiping left or right on our tablets, and our necks are starting to feel the strain.
They’ve even got a name for it, “Tech Neck.”
Then skyrocketing stress levels, poor sleep and skipping out on exercise takes things from bad to worse. You can suddenly find yourself feeling that old familiar twinge.
And no matter whether it’s a sharp stab in your neck that keeps you from turning your head, or a dull throbbing in your shoulders that keeps you from getting your chores done, neck pain can bring life to a screeching halt.
Fortunately there are a number of simple and safe natural solutions that can help prevent your next bout of neck trouble, or erase the pain if you’re already suffering.
4 tried and true tricks to prevent neck pain
Head off neck pan BEFORE it begins with these four easy fixes.
1. Ditch the big bag:
Neck pain can often be traced straight back to the bag you’re carrying.
Ladies if you tend to carry everything but the kitchen sink around in an oversized handbag you may be asking for neck trouble. And guys, you’re not off the hook either. If you’re slinging a messenger back over your shoulder that’s packed with all of the “essentials” from your laptop to the files for tomorrow’s meeting you could be putting your neck at risk too.
Experts suggest you weigh your fully packed bag on a scale. It shouldn’t weight any more than five percent of your bodyweight. So for example a woman weighing 170 pounds shouldn’t be carting around any more than eight and half pounds.
And if you frequently have neck pain you might want to scale back even more than five percent.
2. Take frequent breaks:
Experts say simply stepping away from your computer (or other intensive task) for a five minute break every half an hour can head off neck and shoulder pain before it ever gets started. Set a timer and stick to it.
You can sit back and look away from your screen, take a stroll to chat with a coworker or get a cup of coffee. In this case it’s the break that matters, not the activity.
3. Stretch it out:
Simple stretches can ease current neck pain, and help keep it from coming back. Every hour or so try to fit in a quick one to two minute stretching session.
Three to try (and remember no bouncing or straining!):
- Roll your shoulders forward in gentle circles five times, and then reverse it and roll them backwards five times.
- Gently lower your left ear toward your left shoulder, hold for 15 seconds, return to center, and then repeat with your right ear.
- Drop your chin to your chest and slowly rotate your head as far as comfortable to the right, hold for 15 seconds, return to the center and then repeat to the left.
4. Pitch your pillow:
Chances are you hold on to your pillows for far too long. Most of us do.
An old pillow can cause you to sleep in an unnatural position putting a strain on your neck. And if you’re waking up with a stiff or sore neck your pillow is the most likely culprit.
Researchers say we should be replacing our pillows as soon as they show signs of not being able to maintain their original shape. In other words, of your head makes a permanent indent in the pillow it’s time to toss it.
Generally a standard polyester pillow should be replaced every six months.
3 natural solutions to ease neck pain
But what if it’s too late and you’re already suffering with a sore neck? Good news, I have some tricks to help with that too.
Boswellia, or Indian frankincense, extract can help ease your neck and shoulder pain, and increase your flexibility. The herb naturally blocks an enzyme that plays a part in inflammation.
To get the most benefits look for a boswellia extract that’s standardized to contain at least 40 percent boswellic acids. A typical dosage is around 300 mg a day to reduce pain, but follow package instructions.
It turns out turmeric, which is often used to add a gorgeous golden color to traditional Indian and Chinese dishes, is terrific for reducing inflammation and pain.
Research has found that the active ingredient in turmeric, known as curcumin, can be just as effective as NSAID drugs at reducing damaging inflammation and pain. Curcumin naturally inhibits a pain related enzyme called COX-2
Experts typically recommend 400 to 600 mg up to three times a day to quickly relieve neck and back pain.
3. Essential oils:
Essential oils have been helping to relieve all kinds of pain for centuries. Three of the most effective for neck and shoulder pain are peppermint, lavender and rosemary. When applied topically they can instantly deliver soothing relief.
The active ingredient in peppermint, menthol, helps relax muscles and relieve tension. Lavender has natural anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties for quick pain relief. And rosemary fights inflammation and pain as well.
Simply mix about 15 drops of your chosen essential oil into around two tablespoons of a carrier such as coconut oil, castor oil, almond oil or unscented lotion. Firmly massage a dollop of the mix into your tight neck muscles several times a day.