How to Avoid Neck Pain

We’ve all complained of a ‘stiff neck’ at some point. Whether you’ve woken up with neck pain after sleeping in an awkward position, or the stiffness has gradually got worse over time, there are a range of factors involved. Modern lifestyles are responsible for a rise in neck and shoulder pain – using computers and mobile phones are the main culprit.

Read on to find out how you can avoid neck pain in the first place, and how to treat it.

  1. Avoid too many screens

As we rely more and more on computers and screens, it’s more important than ever to take breaks when we can. If you have to use a computer for work, make sure the screen is set at the correct height and eye level so you don’t have to look up or down. Mobile phones and tablets can also be a huge problem – take a look at your posture next time you’re texting someone or browsing the internet on a tablet. More often than not, your neck is forced downwards, putting extra pressure on your shoulders and upper back. Avoid looking at screens all day at work, and then all evening at home.

  1. Spread weight evenly

Carrying a heavy weight on one shoulder can put pressure on the neck muscles, and cause other posture problems. Many of us often carry a laptop or handbag on one shoulder – try and carry weight evenly by using a backpack if possible. This is essential for young adults and children carrying heavy bags to school each day.

  1. Sleep on your back

Certain sleep positions can cause neck pain, so be careful not to sleep on your stomach and twist the neck. The best position to sleep in is on your back, as the neck and spine remain in a neutral position. You can also buy special pillows to support the neck if you know you’re susceptible to neck and shoulder pain.

What to do when you have neck pain

Neck pain is quite literally a pain in the neck! It can stop you from getting on with daily life and doing normal activities like driving. If you have repeated episodes of neck pain, you should try a course of neck pain treatment from a qualified chiropractor. Rather than simply masking the pain until next time, manual therapy aims to reduce the risk of the pain reoccurring. Contact us to find out more.

How your Sleeping Position Affects your Body

Getting enough sleep is essential for your health – but did you know that the positions you lie in as you snooze can also affect your body? Most of us don’t give a second thought to our sleeping position, but because we spend so many hours in bed it can have an impact on overall health and cause certain health issues.

Are you a serial snorer or do you suffer from neck pain? Your chosen sleeping position is probably the culprit. Find out about the common sleeping shapes below and how they can affect your body in different ways.

How Not to Sleep

While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all recommended sleeping position, there is a certain way of sleeping which is known to be a back pain culprit – sleeping on your stomach. Lying down on the front of the body flattens the natural curve of the spine, putting extra strain on back muscles. Additionally, to sleep on your stomach you have to twist your neck one way or another. This rotation can cause pain in the neck and shoulders. If you find this is the only comfortable position you can fall asleep in, prop a pillow under your pelvis to give some back support.

On your back

Sleeping on your back is great for the spine, but it’s probably not great for the person you’re lying next to. Lying in a flat, neutral position is recommended for anybody with back or neck issues, but it can also lead to snoring. If snoring is becoming an issue, there are various ways to combat it, from special pillows to nasal strips.

On your side

A side sleeping position is one of the most common. It can stop you snoring, and is the safest position for pregnant women to sleep in. Moreover, sleeping on your side can reduce your chances of developing neck or back pain as the neck doesn’t twist. It’s thought that sleeping on your right side is less preferable than the left, as it causes acid to pool in the stomach which leads to heartburn.

On your stomach

Did you know that sleeping on your stomach is one of the most well-known causes of back pain and neck issues? It may feel comfy at first, but staying in this position for too long can cause back problems because the neck is forced to rotate. Sleeping on your front regularly can have a negative effect on the spine, so try and sleep in an alternative position.

Sleeping Support

It’s better to sleep on your back or the side of your body, but even these positions can sometimes aggravate back pain. Side sleepers should place a pillow in-between their legs and draw knees into the chest. This position can rotate the spine as you snooze, as the top leg can fall forwards and the top shoulder can droop forwards too, pulling muscles in different directions.

To protect your back when sleeping on your back, use a pillow under your knees – this can help your spine maintain its natural curve.

Find your Own Comfort

It’s a vicious cycle – poor sleep can lead to back pain, then you can’t get to sleep because of the discomfort, and you’re not comfortable in the recommended sleeping positions for back pain. It can be so frustrating! Do whatever you can to make yourself comfortable, including trying out new mattresses and pillows. They can make a huge difference, and you could also try using calming sounds to drift off to sleep.

If you’re having trouble sleeping because of your back pain, see your GP or a chiropractor.

Lying in an awkward position can put pressure on certain parts of your body and have an impact on circulation. Ever woke up with pins and needles in the night? That’s your body’s way of saying change position! Some sleep positions can cause or aggravate health issues.

If you struggle with neck pain or back pain, see one of our chiropractors to discover what treatment could help. The first thing to do is check how you are sleeping and see whether changing positions could provide some relief.

Is it Dangerous to Crack your own Back?

We often get asked whether choosing to crack your own back is bad for you. While it is an old wives tale that cracking knuckles will cause arthritis, your back contains many more joints and care should be taken when twisting or extending to make joints ‘crack’ or ‘pop’. Many people feel the urge to crack their backs and describe relief afterwards – so surely it can’t be dangerous?

Scientifically speaking, manipulating a joint until you hear the audible pop will not cause damage to that joint. However, it is still not advised to take control of your own back cracking – read on to find out why.

Choosing to crack your own back

There are various ways to make your back joints crack, but the important thing is finding the underlying reason why your joints need to pop. You’ll notice after the crack of a joint, you experience a greater range of movement in that area. Chiropractors call this a spinal adjustment, and seeing as that’s what we specialise in, we obviously don’t think it is dangerous for our backs – quite the opposite!

However, there is a difference between self-back cracking and seeing a chiropractor. In order to crack your back, you may move and twist in different positions which could cause further harm. If you ask somebody else at home to help you crack your back, unless they are a qualified specialist they could target the wrong areas and cause more pain, rather than relief.

A joint pop or crack which is delivered by yourself or an unqualified person will only provide temporary relief. You will feel the urge to crack once again in a day or so. Many chiropractors believe that the desire to twist and crack the back is the result of an imbalance in the spine, or a sign that it is not moving correctly. Constantly twisting and cracking will not solve this problem, and there’s a chance it could make it worse.

Chiropractic adjustments

The difference between cracking your own back and getting chiropractic treatment is years of study and research! A chiropractor can do a full examination of your spine and the rest of your body to determine problems in mobility. They can then perform targeted movements with expertise (manipulations and adjustments) to reduce joint stiffness and increase range of motion. You will hear a similar popping sound, but a chiropractor is actually getting to the root of the problem, rather than providing a temporary fix.

Contact us to book your first appointment with a specialist to help stop your back cracking habit!