Reasons Why You Get a Stiff Neck

  • Most neck pain is due to bad posture combined with other conditions, lifestyle habits or even injuries.
  • Muscle tension from too many hours hunched over your smartphone or computer is one primary cause of strained neck muscles.
  • Nicotine abuse also contributes to chronic neck pain because its chemicals damage blood vessels and prevent them from getting adequate nutrients.

1. You’re a textaholic

Text neck refers to the repetitive stress injury where excessive texting or cell phone use is believed to be the main cause. Prolonged periods of time being glued to your phone with your head pulled forward or down causes more stress on the vertebrae of the lower neck. Gary Olson, a chiropractor in Commack, New York, says this posture eventually results in muscle spasm as well as eyesight problems. “People are developing eye problems as well as carpal tunnel and tendonitis in your hands from excessive texting,” he adds.

To avoid neck strain, keep your phone to eye level as much as possible and also try lying down when texting. The same is true for desk workers. When sitting at your desk, your screen should sit higher than you. Use books to add more leverage. Plus, take a break to allow your neck to recover.

2. You’re highly stressed

One of the main causes of neck pain is muscle tension. According to Olson, our muscles tense up even pulling your shoulders up during periods of stress, causing muscle tightness and headaches. For the sake of your neck, pay attention to how stress is affecting you and take relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation and other ways to de-stress.

3. You smoke

Smoking cigarettes can be a chronic pain in the neck.  The chemicals contained in cigarettes can worsen degenerative disc disease by hardening the arteries and blocking blood supply going to the bones and muscles. This results in discs not receiving enough nourishment, hence, speeding up the degenerative process. Plus, the position by which most people smoke also causes neck pain. “People usually lean their head back when smoking,” Olson says. If your neck is still giving you problems, consider quitting smoking.

4. Your sleeping positions may be wrong

For stomach sleepers, you may want to avoid this position. Compared to other sleep positions, this puts more stress on the cervical spine, making you end up waking with a crick in your neck. To help ease the stress on your neck, consider sleeping on your side or back instead and use a small and less firm pillow to let your neck rest in a more neutral position. When dozing on a plane, a horseshoe-shaped pillow is recommended to avoid waking up with a stiff neck.

5. You’re working too hard at the gym

One of the biggest contributors to neck pain is poor posture during an activity or after working out, says Harvard Medical School. Some people keep the chin forward and shoulders slouched, which creates tension in the neck and surrounding muscles. Keep your chin and spine down for a neutral posture instead, to avoid pain.

6. You fill your purse to the brim

According to the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care, one in three women suffers from chronic pain annually. The culprit? Their purses. Women don’t seem to realize that filling their bags to the brim can take a toll on their shoulder and neck muscles.  “People who wear purses tend to wear them on one side, so it pulls on the shoulder causing it to slope,” Olson says. Downsizing your bag, lessening the load, and switching sides frequently will save your neck from the pain.

7. You constantly chew gum

Gum chewing adds stress to the area where the jaw meets the skull. The constant strenuous jaw movement strains the muscles in your head and neck, leading to neck pain and headaches. If you develop this pain, Olson suggests cutting it down to see if it helps.

Source: The Healthy