To prevent neck pain, you should:
- Reduce your stress and tension: Tense muscles in the neck and shoulder can lead to neck pain. Find a few effective ways to reduce your stress (journalling, talking to a friend, going on a walk, etc.), and use those when you feel stress starting to build.
- Sit and stand properly: Poor posture (think: hunched over) can very quickly lead to neck pain. Watch how you’re standing and sitting every day. (Your mother really was right about the importance of good posture.)
- Exercise both your neck and body regularly: Aerobic exercise is especially good, and you should aim for a 30-minute cardio workout 5 times a week.
- Attain and maintain a healthy weight: This is a good “life health” tip, but since your spine is responsible for carrying the weight of your body, being at a healthy weight will help you take good care of your spine and not overstrain it.
- Eat healthy food: Keeping a healthy meal plan will also help you maintain a healthy weight.
- Stop smoking: Another “life health” tip, but smoking can affect your bones and muscles in your cervical spine.
- Lift heavy items safely: You don’t want to injure your neck (or any part of your back) by not going slowly and carefully when lifting something.
- Wear a seat belt: This can help prevent whiplash.
- Use proper sports equipment: Protect your neck while you’re playing sports, especially sports that can easily lead ot neck injuries (eg, football).
Taking care of your neck is a lifetime endeavor. Lifestyle changes are the best road to wellness, and of course, making these changes will benefit more than just your neck.
If this list seems daunting, try to implement a few tips at a time, and keep in mind that bigger changes—such as quitting smoking or losing weight—will take patience and commitment.
Your hard work, though, will pay off, and you should have a healthier life and fewer episodes of neck pain.