“70% of people experiences neck pain at some point in their lives.”
Office workers and computer users are at the highest incidence of neck pain among all professionals. There is an increase in the risk for developing neck pain for people who spend most of their day sitting at work. Duration of computer use, frequency of breaks, method of keyboard operation, position of computer monitors, and type and use of input devices are associated with neck pain at work. Neck pain is common for those maintaining a poor posture with slouched shoulders and head leaning forward. Not long ago, patients with neck pain would have been told to rest or maybe use a neck brace, or would have given a few tablets to pop and wait until the pain had ebbed away. But there is a change in the scenario from the past years about the line of treatment for neck pain. Medical professionals now recommend movement instead of rest.
A study described in Neck and Shoulder Pain, suggest there are mounting scientific evidence for the role of stretching, muscle strengthening and body re-aligning exercises in treating people with neck pain. A short period of exercise can help loosen up tight muscles and bring the body back into proper alignment. Combined with good workplace ergonomics and proper posture, a short daily fitness break in your day could help minimize your work-related neck pain and significantly increase your health and productivity. For example, after a whiplash injury, people heal sooner and are less likely to develop chronic pain if they start gentle exercise as soon as possible. For those with long-term pain (called chronic pain), results from controlled studies show that exercise provides significant relief.
If you’re interested in using exercise to help relieve neck pain, make sure you get help from a physiotherapist who can create an individualized exercise program based on your pain severity, limitation of movement, and current strength. The program should have clearly stated goals and include stretching and strengthening exercises, as well as exercises to improve how you use your neck muscles. Ideally, if you are working with a physical therapist, he or she will guide you through appropriate exercises, motivating you to work hard enough to see positive results but not so hard as to cause further injury. Before you exercise independently, make sure you understand which exercises to do and how to do them safely. Ask for written instructions and appropriate clarifications if you are still unsure.
Here are the 5 ‘S’ in preventing and managing neck pain that can be practiced on a daily basis.
- Short break: After all we are humans and not machines who needs breaks at regular intervals. Whether it is sitting in front of a computer or watching television, if you maintain the same position for a long period of time, your neck can get additional strain. This often results in more stiffness and pain. To prevent this, take a break every one hour.
- Stretching: Stiffness and tension in your neck can be relieved through stretching. Start by tilting your head from left to right and hold for 20 seconds on each side. Next, place your hand on top of your head and stretch your neck towards your shoulder on each side. Be sure to perform these stretches with slow, smooth movements.
- Sitting straight: Your muscles are always working hard to hold your head up. But if you are not adopting a good posture, your muscles have to work even harder. Whether you are sitting or standing, make sure that your shoulders are over your hips and your ears are over your shoulders. Try to visualize the top of your head trying to touch the ceiling. You will lengthen and elongate your neck and get as tall as possible. This takes the stress off of your neck muscles.
- Suitable Chair: You need to look for a chair that can provide you with adequate support. It’s best to look for a chair with a back that goes up to shoulder level. With this high-backed chair, your neck and back are kept vertical, and you can lean your head back periodically to give your neck a chance to relax. You may also want to use a small cushion to keep your back in a neutral position.
- Stress management: Studies show that psychological and social issues are important contributors to both back and neck pain. Emotional issues are rarely a cause of neck pain, but they can increase the symptoms of neck pain. Once you identify stress as part of the problem, resolving the neck pain is significantly easier.
For physiotherapy treatment, you can always call Portea on 1800-121-2323 and heal at home.