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[April 2019] Lifestyle and Neck Health
Date 04-09-2019 14:58 Hit144
Lifestyle and Neck Health

The introduction of smartphones has revolutionized our daily lives with the conveniences of smart technology. Smartphones, however, also pose a great threat to our health, especially to the health of our necks and spines. The number of people afflicted with forward head posture, herniated cervical disks, and other such conditions is on a constant rise worldwide. Here are a few helpful lifestyle tips we can practice every day to protect our necks and our health.

How is your neck health?
Heavy smartphone users, office workers required to spend several hours each day staring into computer monitors, and housewives burdened with chores often experience stiffness and pain in and around their necks. Left untreated, these symptoms can lead to cervical disk herniation. Neck pain can also lead to a host of other symptoms, including headaches, tingling sensations or paralysis in the hands and the arms, ringing in the ears, dizziness, fatigue, and even insomnia.

Herniated Cervical Disk Symptoms:
- Constant stiffness and pain in the back of the neck;
- Tightening sensation in the back of the neck, which may be accompanied by headache affecting the entire head;
- Stiffness and pain extending from the base of the rear neck to either shoulder; and
- Tingling or pins-and-needles sensations in the hands and/or the arms

Rule 1. Check your posture.
The cervical spine in its natural and healthy state forms a C-shaped curve, which is necessary for the neck to withstand the weight of the head. When this C-shaped curve is disrupted, neck pain and other symptoms occur.

What you must never do:
- Crane your neck forward and keep staring into your computer screen.
- Look down at your smartphone while craning your head. Looking down at anything for extended periods of time burdens the neck. The same goes for making things on a worktable or working long hours in the kitchen, cooking and washing dishes.
- Wear something around your neck all day long. You would be surprised by how many office workers complain about neck pain and stiffness because of the little ID cards they wear around their necks at work.
- Maintain a bent posture, with your shoulders hanging down. This will naturally make your spine and neck crane forward.

What you must do:
- Maintain a correct posture at all times, whether sitting down or standing. Keep your shoulders and chest open in order to keep your neck straight.
- Sit in your chair comfortably with your buttocks and back touching the back of your chair. Keep your back straight while working seated at a desk in order to minimize stress to your spine and neck.
- Readjust the height of your computer monitor so that it meets your eye. If you use a laptop, make sure you place it on a prop so that its screen meets your eye.
- Use a pillow when taking a short nap in your chair. Either use a chair with a cushion around the neck or use a neck pillow.
- Use a pillow of appropriate firmness and height. When you lie down on your pillow, facing your ceiling, your face should comfortably face forward. Your pillow should maintain a space of six to eight centimeters in depth between the back of your head and your bed.

Rule 2. Relax and exercise your neck.
If you are already experiencing pain in your neck, shoulders, and/or head, it is important for you to relax and stretch the muscles in and around your neck regularly. Here are a few simple exercises you can perform while sitting down on the floor or in a chair.

Everyday neck stretching exercises
[Stretching side to side] (1) Sit facing forward, straighten your back, and leave your arms comfortably hanging on your sides. (2) Raise your right hand slowly toward the ceiling and bring it all the way onto your left ear. (3) With your right hand and arm relaxed, tilt your head rightward slowly. Make sure your head is not tilting forward or backward. Do not exert extra pressure on your head with your right hand. Keep all your muscles relaxed. (4) Count slowly to three or five. (5) Swing your right arm slowly to your right side. (6) Repeat the same on your left side.

[Stretching back and forth] (1) Sit facing forward and clasp your hands together behind the back of your head. (2) Bend your neck forward with your hands still clasped on your head. Your elbows should be facing forward and downward, visible right in front of your eyes. (3) With all the muscles in your body relaxed, count slowly to three or five. (4) Raise your head slowly and keep your shoulders open and relaxed. Stretch your shoulders and elbows slightly backward so that your chin is slightly raised. Count slowly to three or five. (5) Repeat this process three times.