Protecting your neck over the holidays
The holidays can be hard on your neck. Traveling, hosting guests, setting up decorations, and attending family events may require your body to move in ways it’s not used to doing. These activities can result in stiffness, soreness, or a sharp pain in the neck.
Try these 4 tips to help keep your neck healthy and happy this holiday season.
1. Pack and travel smart
If you travel this holiday season, you may have to carry luggage or sit in a cramped space for a long time, causing neck pain. Here are some ways to protect your neck while you travel:
Use a neck pillow. A travel-sized neck pillow helps keep your neck straight and upright so it doesn’t accidentally bend in an uncomfortable position.
Pack in multiple bags. Lifting luggage that’s too heavy can easily stress or injure your neck. Pack your travel items in multiple small bags instead of 1 large, heavy bag. Ask someone to help you take luggage in and out of your trunk or the overhead compartment on an airplane.
Bring heat/ice therapy. Heat therapy encourages blood flow and can reduce neck stiffness, and ice therapy helps reduce swelling and inflammation. So pack a heating pad, disposable heat wraps, and an ice wrap (or empty plastic bags you can later fill with ice) to use in case neck pain flares up.
2. Stick to a nutritious diet and exercise
The holiday season can throw off your daily routine, and exercise is often the first item to get cut from a shifting schedule. Eating habits often change this time of the year, too, as many people enjoy home-cooked meals and delicious desserts with family and friends.
But if you commit to exercising and eating nutritiously over the holidays, your neck will thank you. A balanced diet, which includes adequate protein and plenty of fresh vegetables, supplies vitamins and healing properties that your soft tissues need. And an exercise program can help improve your cervical spine’s strength and flexibility, which may reduce the risk for neck pain.
3. Save your energy and know your limits
Before the holidays arrive, consider which traditions and festivities are worth doing and which are too demanding. Some holiday activities, such as stringing up lights, baking cookies, and washing dishes are all physically strenuous and can cause or worsen neck pain.
Listen to what your body is telling you and decide ahead of time which activities to skip. Ask your family, friends, or neighbors to help carry out difficult chores. Take some time for yourself this holiday season, relaxing in bed with a good book or soaking in a warm bath.
4. Ask for gifts that help relieve neck pain
If you exchange gifts with loved ones to celebrate the holidays, here are a few items you can put on your wish list:
Massage therapy gift certificate. Massage therapy, such as a Swedish massage or deep tissue massage, can help you relax, encourage blood flow to your soft tissues, and reduce your perception of pain.
Pillow. The right pillow is the one that has just the right height and firmness for you and will help keep your neck in a supported position with neutral alignment.
Neck massage device. If you want to treat neck pain at home, you can bring the massage to you. Research the best neck massagers and muscle rollers on the market.
Neck pain can be especially difficult to handle during the holiday season. Using this list, you can try a few tips to see what helps you find relief.
Originally published on Spine-Health