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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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    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

                A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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                Last Updated on November 11, 2019

                How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

                How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

                Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

                To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

                Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

                1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

                Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

                Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

                To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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                2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

                Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

                If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

                Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

                3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

                Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

                Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

                4. Feed Your Brain

                Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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                This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

                Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

                Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

                5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

                According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

                Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

                Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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                6. Write it Down

                If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

                It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

                You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

                7. Listen to Music

                Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

                8. Visual Concepts

                In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

                Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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                Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

                9. Teach Someone Else

                Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

                Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

                10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

                Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

                So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

                Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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                Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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