Neck pain can be distracting, interfere with our ability to move and exercise and in some cases can be a contributing factor towards a bad attitude and depression.
Often neck pain and tension is the body's way of letting us know that we need to take a time out for some self maintenance and to check our posture.
Here are 5 suggestions I make for clients who come in seeking relief from pain and tension in the neck and shoulders.
1. Stay hydrated. Did you know that our vertebral disks are nearly 80% water when we are born. Think of them like a big fluffy un-roasted marshmallow sandwiched between the vertebrae bones. Over time with gravity working it's magic, the tendency most of us have to not drink enough water and drink a little too much caffeine, the fluid in the disks and joints of the body is not replenished at the rate it's needed. So the big fluffy marshmallow like disks slowly begin to deflate disrupting healthy blood flow to muscles and nerve conduction. In some cases pinching a nerve. But good news, add a couple 8 oz glasses of water to your daily intake and voila less pain.
Plus you'll be saving wear and tear on your spinal column and vertebrae helping to reduce degenerative issues in the neck and lower spine.
2. Get A Massage. Healthy muscle is massaged muscle. Seriously though we engage in so much static bad posture/positioning through out the day. Staring ahead at the computer, looking down at our phones, tilting our head to one side to hold the phone, bad sleep posture... ... ... the list goes on. All these things lead to muscles in the neck, upper back and chest become stiff and stuck in chronic holding patterns that make massage a must.
As muscles are massaged, its not just pressure that's producing relief, but therapists know and understand the pattern in which healthy muscle forms. As a therapist works they are separating muscle fiber allowing for the muscle cells to plump up with hyaluronic acid, interstitial fluid to flow through the muscle removing toxins and waste build up. Thus leaving healthy hydrated muscle with good circulation.
3. Increase the foods high in magnesium in your diet. Magnesium is a mineral that helps to sooth our nerves, it protects and builds the sheath around the nerve ending that keeps nerves protected and inflammation out. It also helps to relax muscles and reduce muscle cramping. Magnesium has also been found in recent studies to help improve our ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Click here for a list of foods high in magnesium.
4. Take notice of how you sleep. Often times the way we sleep has a lot to do with how our muscles feel. If I had my way along with every bio-mechanist in the world. Everyone would sleep on a firm surface with out a pillow. When it comes to our neck and the use of pillows the prop the head at angles that are unnatural.
5. Spend time in the pool. When we suspend ourselves in water we are reducing the active compression of the spinal disks created by our weight and gravity. This allows our disks and joints the opportunity to rest and begin to expand back to their natural shapes.