If you feel like you have already tried everything you can think of to alleviate your neck pain and headaches, you might find yourself thinking something like “What am I doing wrong?”
Or maybe a better question is “What I am missing?” There is a very good chance you are only one small change away from finally starting to ease the tension in your neck and shoulders and reducing your headaches.
I often hear that I have tried PT or I already exercise, or I have been to massage, or chiro and I still have neck pain. “Nothing is going to work for me!”
As with treatment of aches and pains, but especially with neck pain, I often compare it to a recipe. If you were teaching your granddaughter to bake a cake you would tell her you need to follow a very specific recipe (plan) with the right amount of ingredient placed at the right time. If you miss one ingredient or if you add the flour after baking, then the whole cake will be ruined.
Well, treatment of neck pain is very much like a recipe and that recipe isn’t the same for all people. Sometimes you are doing all the right things but just in the wrong order. Maybe you are just missing 1 or 2 ingredients that will make all the difference. If your granddaughter messed up her cake because she forgot an important ingredient, would you tell her to give up and that baking isn’t for her? Or would you encourage her to try again with your expert help to get it right next time. (Tip # 4 explains just that for neck pain) .
Here are 4 tips that you may be missing in your recipe to treat neck pain and headaches:
1. You’re still sitting too much: recall that sitting for prolonged periods typically results in a lot of tension in your neck, shoulders and upper back, and it often causes tension headaches. Even if you’re trying not to sit as much at work and/or home, you still might be aggravating your neck on a daily basis (especially if you sit with poor posture).
2. Too much stress: this is often overlooked and underappreciated by neck pain and headache sufferers, but the reality is that your stress level has a significant impact on your pain level and your body’s ability to heal. In general, look for ways to manage your stress and improve the quality of deep, restorative sleep you get at night.
3. Choosing the right pillow: many times, people are not using the right pillow for their body type. The goal of your pillow is to support your head and make sure it stays in a neutral position. So, I guess you could say it is more about choosing the right size pillow rather than what kind of pillow.
I always recommend a memory foam cervical support pillow that is the correct size for your body. Having the correct pillow is not the only thing that can be done to help with neck pain and headaches. However, if you do have nagging neck pain and headaches and you have tried everything. It might be a time to upgrade your pillow.
4. You just need a little help: despite all your best efforts, you might just need a little help to “get over the hump” with your neck pain and headaches. The good news is this: once you can eliminate your symptoms and restore normal movement in your muscles and joints, you can then switch your attention to keeping your neck happy and not have to worry about regular treatments. Sometimes you just need to find an expert to help you figure out the correct recipe or missing ingredient.
If you would like to learn more about how Natural Fit Therapy can help you with you neck pain and headaches, please visit www.naturalfittherapy.com to learn more or call or office at (512) 730-0231 and ask to talk with one of our neck pain and headache experts.
…is a new pillow what you’ve been missing?
Question: “How do I choose the right pillow for me?”
Ryan’s Answer:This is a question that I have been asked over and over again. When it comes down to choosing the right pillow, we must first define what “the right pillow” means.
When I think about recommending the right pillow, especially to someone dealing with neck pain or headaches, I think about supporting the neck in a neutral position. The idea is in a neutral position there will be less stress on the joints, muscles, and ligaments while you sleep. This will help reduce pain and allow for a better healing environment.
For example, if your pillow is too small or too big your neck will not be in a neutral position (see red in the picture). If you have the correct pillow size, then your neck will be in a better position (green).
Once we have found the right sized pillow, I always like to recommend a high-quality memory foam pillow with a cervical support. A cervical support is the little bump on the front that tucks up under your neck to give it extra support and help it maintain a neutral position.
Over the years I have been asked this question and it was often followed up with… “Will you help me shop for a pillow?” For many years I just had people go buy a few pillows and bring them into the office and would help them choose the right one.
However, about a year ago I found a company that makes a great quality pillow in multiple sized pillows. They have a specific measuring system to make sure the pillow you order is the right size for you and your neck. Yes, and you guessed it…I started selling these pillows in my clinic and measuring people to make sure they were able to get the right sized, high-quality pillow the first time without multiple trips the store.
To summarize, you should look to get a high-quality cervical support pillow that is the correct size allowing your neck to be supported in a neutral position while you sleep.
If you would like to get measured for your custom Pillowise pillow call (512) 730-0231 or if you are currently a client of Natural Fit Therapy, you can ask your therapist to measure you at your next appointment.