How many of your friends and family have never had a pain in their body? Physical pain is going to happen at some point and time for all of us. Life movements have a way of creating body pains. Body pains usually aren’t the result of a single movement. They’re the result of poor movements over time. Poor aligned body positions, repetitive movements and environmental situations that add up to years of poor movements. These harmful movement patterns repeated day after day create the pain. It’s important to become aware of this and start to modify your lifestyle to correct the movements and ease the pain. This column will focus on the pain in your neck (and I’m not talking about that person that irritates you). Here’s some modifications to help ease neck pain (American Council on Exercise, ACE).     

senior couple giving neck massageAlign your hips. Yes, aligning the hips when standing and sitting can help your neck. Try to keep your knees from turning in or out excessively.  Instead keep your knees facing straight. Also try to avoid crossing your legs while sitting because this pulls on your spine and over time could pull it out of alignment.

Walk softly. I’m a big person and when my kids were babies my wife would tell me to walk softly when they were napping. So I learned to step lighter during the kids nap time. Stepping lightly is actually easier on your spine. Don’t flop your feet down. Use your muscles to control the foot from flopping down hard. 

Wear supportive shoes. I’ve often said that we shouldn’t cheat and cheap ourselves when it comes to our shoes and our mattress. Our shoes are the body’s shock absorbers. Throw away those worn down shoes.

Open up the chest. Some of our trunk/core muscles attach to parts of our shoulder that connect to our neck. All of our joints are connected like a chain of paper clips and if you move one joint, other joints are affected. A lot of people have tight chest muscles due to slouching forward for whatever reason (technology is a big reason!). Lie on the floor and spread your arms out to the sides and breathe deeply for three to five minutes.

Relax your jaw. I like to chew gum. Helps to keep me alert and also helps my mouth to not dry out (I speak a lot during my fitness training work days). I’ve had to learn to relax my jaw and give those jaw muscles a break. When you’re alone, let your mouth hang open to relax your jaw.  Also, make sure you don’t do this while walking outside this time of year. You may have to spit out a few fruit flies!

Have fun trying to help your pain in the neck! Here’s to your great neck health.

Jonathan Souder is the Fitness Director at Manor House, an Acts Retirement-Life Community in Seaford, Delaware. This column appeared in the October 10, 2019 edition of the Seaford Star.