Tandem Physical Therapy

Top 4 Daily Activities That Cause Neck Tension

We’ve seen a surge in neck tension at our clinic lately and want to share with you the top four daily activities you do that could be causing your neck to be under more strain.

Cell Phones & Computers. Cell phones and computers have been around for decades now, but the technological advancements over the last 10 years or so have allowed us to become completely dependent on our devices. Think about it – when you go for a walk you grab your cell phone because it has all your music stored on it, before you leave for the office you reach for your phone to check for any important emails and when you’re unwinding from a busy day you curl up on the sofa and scroll through Facebook.

Unfortunately, our addiction to devices has really terrible effects on posture which leads us to our first point. When we use cell phones and computers, we are either hunched over with our upper backs rounded forward and head looking down, or we sit for hours causing our shoulders to round forward and chins to poke out. Both positions place an undue amount of strain along the neck and upper shoulders. Try holding your phone up in front of your face, instead of looking down and be sure to take frequent breaks from your computer (at least once per hour) to get up and walk around for a bit.

Sleeping Posture. We get asked all the time about the best position to sleep in. Most people we treat believe their sleeping positions have a dramatic influence over their neck pain and tension each morning and they’re absolutely right! The best position to sleep is on your back with a small pillow under your knees to release your lower back. The second best position is on either side with a pillow between your knees and the WORST position is on your stomach. This is because you have to turn your head to the side as far as it goes and stay in that position for hours. Positioning of the pillow is also key. Be sure that when you’re sleeping on your back or sides that you only have one pillow under your head which should support the curve of your neck and not be resting under your shoulders.

Gym Exercise. Believe it or not, a lot of good intentions could be contributing to neck tension. This is simply because most people are never taught proper form or how to use the machines correctly. Common exercises that I find are done incorrectly and lead to neck tension are push-ups, dips, planks and several other upper body exercises that require pushing or pulling.

Without realizing it, most people allow their shoulders to shrug up slightly during each of these activities which puts a heavy amount of strain through the upper traps and neck. This muscle lays on top of the shoulders and runs up both sides of the neck. To avoid this, you simply have to drop your shoulders and hold them in place. The solution seems simple in theory but is extremely difficult in execution for people who have been using the wrong form.

Driving. When we were 16, we were taught to keep our hands at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel. Thirty to forty years later, this position which causes your shoulders to elevate, starts to cause what I call “hidden tension”. What I mean by that is that most people don’t even realize how tense they get while driving. When traffic backs up, a car cuts you off or you’re running late, tension starts creeping into your neck and shoulders and before you know it, your shoulders are up around your ears! The next time you get in your car, take a deep breath in, followed by a big exhale and drop your shoulders.

OK, so there you have it! My top 4 daily activities that could be causing your neck tension. If you want to learn more about how to solve your neck tension and avoid a life of chronic neck pain, see if you qualify for one of our complimentary Discovery Visits by calling (504) 407-3477 or sending us an email at info@tandempt.com.

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