Most of us would have experienced a stiff neck sometime or the other. It can be very frustrating! A stiff neck is generally the result of muscle strain over a period of time due to poor posture, leaning over the computer, hunching over the work desk or going on a long drive. Staring at a computer, messaging on a mobile phone or bending over a book for several hours are also common reasons for a stiff neck.
Other common causes
- Sleeping in an awkward position
- A sports injury
- Any activity that involves turning the head from side to side repeatedly
A stiff neck can also cause a headache, shoulder pain or arm pain and leave one’s entire body turned to one side, making it difficult to look sideways or backwards.
Tips to prevent neck pain
- Maintain a good posture while standing or sitting: see that the shoulders are aligned squarely with the hips.
- Take short, frequent breaks from the computer. Roll the shoulders in a circular motion (clockwise and anti clockwise) with the hands straight along the body 10 times.
- Every 10-15 minutes, sit up straight or stand up; walk around and stretch every hour.
- Strengthen the neck muscles by doing stretching exercises regularly.
- When typing for long period, sit close to the table and rest the elbows on the table to relieve stress from the shoulders and the neck.
- Avoid holding the phone between the ear and the shoulder. Use a headset.
- Avoid carrying heavy loads on one shoulder. Try to balance the weight on both the shoulders.
- Sleep in a comfortable position. The head and neck should be aligned with the body. Use a small pillow to support the spaces under the head.
- If you have a neck pain, try a hot or cold pack. Consult a doctor if there is no relief or if the neck pain is accompanied by numbness and/or loss of strength or severe pain in the shoulders and arms.