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5 Tips To Get Rid Of Bothering Neck Pain And Headaches

5 Tips To Get Rid Of Bothering Neck Pain And Headaches

Suffering from chronic neck pain and headaches can be a daily struggle and significantly lowers our health and sense of well-being. For some of us we can pinpoint the reasons for the pain but for many people it can be a mystery to how or why the pain has manifested.

Chances are that the pain is the result of bad posture built up over time through daily habits – many of which we are unaware of. The good news is that through careful and specific exercises and readjusting bad habits, we can start to realign the back and spine to eliminate bad posture and, in turn, get rid of neck pain and headaches. These can be done with no equipment and will take up almost no time making them an excellent and healthy part of your daily routine.

Causes of Bad Posture

Suffering from neck pain and headaches is all too common in these modern times. There can be many causes but the main culprit is down to modern practices resulting in bad posture – yes, our phones really are a pain in the neck.

The majority of us fall victim to our phones but how many times a day do you check it? If your answer is 30 or 40 times a day then you’ll be shocked to know that the more accurate number is double that. We check our phones, on average, 5 times every waking hour according to research and those subtle messaging and app-checking habits are causing havoc with our posture.

The head may feel light to us with our amazing muscles keeping it upright and balanced but it’s actually pretty heavy. When we bend our necks to check our phones we are adding a huge amount of weight and stress on the neck and the spine giving way to subtle shifts and ultimately bad posture and pain.

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texting-neck-images-1024x487

    Put this together with long hours sitting at a desk and hunched over a computer at work, and you have a good idea of where your neck pain and headaches are manifesting from. Other daily habits we have that add to bad posture are:

    • Carrying heavy bags on one side of the body – this sends the alignment of the back out of kilter and causes one side of the body to overcompensate.
    • Being overweight – carrying extra weight in different areas of the body can cause bad posture. Carrying too much weight can pull on different muscles and again, causes the body to pull in different directions to make up for it.
    • Wearing high heels and tight clothes – walking around daily in high heels is probably quite obvious when it comes to bad posture but wearing tight clothes or badly fitting clothes can change your centre of gravity and therefore your posture.
    • Walking – be aware of how you walk. We tend to walk a certain way out of habit so it can be hard to notice but continually walking with your head down or shoulders slumped forward can add to your posture pulling out from its proper alignment.
    • Past pain or injuries – when we’ve experienced an injury we tend to deal with the pain by holding our body in a different and unnatural position and when we hold this position on a daily basis it can become a habit and our posture inevitably suffers.

    How Bad Posture Causes Neck Pain and Headaches

    good-posture
      image via healthyhabitshub.com

      Since the neck sits at the top of the back area and spine, it tends to be subject to its movements and misalignments. When the spine is out of alignment the tension builds up and manifests as neck pain and even headaches. Muscles in the neck are particularly affected by the degenerative effects of wear and tear on a daily basis and it’s these muscles that can become tight and cause problems.

      The most common form of bad posture is the head hanging forward and shoulders slumped. Forward head posture is when the neck comes forward and lies over the shoulders resulting in the curving of the spine and the shoulders. This causes pain because of the undue stress on the vertebrae of the lower neck and over a period of time this can worsen and result in chronic neck pain and tension headaches.

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      Get Rid of Neck Pain and Headaches: How To Stop Bad Habits and Rectify Bad Posture

      There are many easy ways you can keep your bad posture habits in check as well as daily exercises you can do to benefit your neck muscles and help prevent and relieve any neck or headache problems you may have.

      Habits: Smartphones or ‘Text Neck’

      gobba-da-smartphone
        image via gvmpoint.it

        Pretty much everyone with a smartphone falls foul of this habit. In fact it is becoming a modern epidemic with 64% of us owning and checking phones on a daily basis. The average person has a 60 degree tilt when checking their screen which amounts to 60lbs or 27kg of pressure on the neck – that’s the equivalent of a seven year-old child. If that shocks you then it’s time to change your habits.

        Bringing the screen to eye level will prevent the neck from tipping forward but equally shouldn’t be too high. Never place the phone on a table or near your lap and check it from there. If you’re using a tablet then try and prop it up so it’s at eye-level especially if you are using it for long periods of time.

        Habits: Slouching While Sitting

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        ergonomics
          image via moss-design.com

          As I mentioned earlier, some of us can spend a lot of time sitting down at our desks and slouching over computers and laptops. If you work in an office then regulations should make sure you are given the right equipment and furniture to help with back health and posture but if you work from home or just generally watching TV then you need to be aware of how you’re sitting.

          Make sure you don’t slouch in your chair and sit with your spine straight and fully supported. The height of the chair is important and should allow you to comfortably rest your feet on the floor and your knees at the level of your hips. Your monitor should be eye-level when you sit up straight. Sitting for long periods allows your back, shoulders and neck to become accustomed to a certain position so make sure that you walk around regularly and pay attention to any pain or niggles as that is your body’s way of telling you it can’t cope.

          Exercise: Soldier Sleeping Position

          Neck exercise

            This is a great exercise that helps to strengthen our neck muscles and help get rid of neck pain and headaches caused by bad posture. You can try this out at any time during the day or before bedtime.

            While lying down with your head and neck resting on a pillow, push your head backwards as though forming a double chin while pressing the head gently back into the pillow. Repeat each movement for the duration of 5 seconds, 10-15 times. It is normal while doing this exercise, to feel like your throat is being blocked but this is okay!

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            Exercise: Sternocleidomastoid (SCM) Stretch

            Sternocleidomastoideus-283x300
              image via garyploski.com

              The SCM muscle is the tightest muscle in your neck and needs a good stretch to relieve any tension caused by bad posture habits.

              Sit in a chair or stand up straight, rotate your head to the right and look up at the ceiling. At this point, your chin should be pointing up at approximately a 45-degree angle. Gently place your left palm lightly on the top of your head above your right ear and gently pull your head toward your left shoulder. Make sure you continue to keep your chin pointing upward and hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds. Ideally you should practice this exercise daily to relieve any tension that has built up during the day.

              Exercise: Arm Swing

              Isolated studio shot of a fit Caucasian woman holding the anuvittasana Standing Back Bend yoga position on an exercise mat.

                This exercise promotes good neck posture and strengthens the muscles in the back of your neck isometrically as well as strengthening the muscles in your upper back.

                Hold your arms relaxed at your sides. Pull your head back so your neck is in line with your spine and look forward keeping your chin parallel to the floor. Place your palms together in front of your legs with your arms straight and gently lift your arms straight up and over your head. Pull your shoulders back as far as you can so your elbows and biceps go behind your head but without allowing your neck to jut forward too much. Hold this position for 10 seconds and go back to your original pose. Repeat several times throughout the day.

                Featured photo credit: Unsplash via pixabay.com

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                Jenny Marchal

                Freelance Writer

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                Last Updated on September 20, 2018

                How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

                How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

                Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

                If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

                1. Breathe

                The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

                • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
                • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
                • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

                Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

                2. Loosen up

                After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

                Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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                3. Chew slowly

                Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

                Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

                Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

                4. Let go

                Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

                The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

                It’s not. Promise.

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                Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

                Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

                21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

                5. Enjoy the journey

                Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

                Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

                6. Look at the big picture

                The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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                Will this matter to me…

                • Next week?
                • Next month?
                • Next year?
                • In 10 years?

                Hint: No, it won’t.

                I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

                Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

                7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

                You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

                Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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                8. Practice patience every day

                Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

                • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
                • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
                • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

                Final thoughts

                Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

                Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

                Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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