Many of the worst things you can do to your neck are common, everyday actions you may not be giving a second thought to. Working to break common habits such as tilting your head forward or sleeping on your stomach can do a world of good for your neck.
Watch: Video: The 3 Worst Things You Can Do To Your Neck
If you’re currently living with neck pain, you may want to consider whether you’re engaging regularly in any of the following harmful habits:
1) Looking down
Between angling your head forward while driving, tilting your head down to view your laptop screen and texting throughout the day, you’re actually putting a great deal of pressure on your neck. These actions may seem small, the frequency with which we engage in them adds up, and can amount to damage for your neck over time.
Constantly tilting your neck forward can lead to a range of problems including ongoing neck pain and soreness, severe upper back muscle spasms, and even early onset arthritis in your neck. This phenomenon is referred to as text neck overuse syndrome, or simply ‘text neck’ for short.
Your likelihood of developing text neck can be reduced by spending less time in a posture with your head angled down. If you have a job where you have to be on a computer for long periods of time, setting up your desk or workstation ergonomically can reduce impact on your back and neck.
2) Smoking (and any nicotine intake)
Of course, the reasons not to smoke are largely obvious and well publicized. What you may not know, though, is smoking can actually aggravate degenerative disc disease in the cervical spine (neck).
The study, conducted by Dr. Michael Leavitt of Emory University's Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, shows smoking can accelerate degeneration of discs in the cervical spine. These spinal discs depend on nourishment from microvasculature, small blood vessels on either side of the spinal discs. Smoking can damage these vessels, making it difficult for the discs to receive oxygen-rich blood and potentially causing accelerated disc degeneration.
3) Sleeping on your stomach
The position in which you sleep has a great deal of bearing on the health of your neck. Sleeping on your stomach places the most stress on your neck, as this position will usually require you to turn your neck and head sharply to the side, and may place your neck at an awkward angle.
If at all possible, it is better to sleep on your side or your back. If you must sleep on your stomach, using a flat pillow (or simply no pillow) can help your neck and back remain in an unstressed position.