The odds are that you'll get a pain in your neck at some time or other.
The neck has the enormous job of holding up and balancing a head that weighs approximately 10 pounds. And it has to perform this task with only seven small cervical vertebrae and a few dozen muscles that must flex and relax, with even the slightest nod, thousands of times a day.
Considering the toughness of its job and its vulnerability to stresses, it’s no wonder the neck is strained more often than any other body structure – according to some authorities.
What are the particular stresses and strains that hit us in the neck?
What should you do when your neck is strained?
And, finally, how can we save our necks - how can we avoid strains?
Minor Neck Aches
You may get a stiff or sore neck from fatigued muscles or strains. You may not even notice it happening. Holding your head in an awkward position, sleeping upright in a chair, or plain overwork can lead to neck pain. Slumping over a desk or a machine can strain the trapezius muscle that runs down the neck from the base of the skull and fans out to the shoulder blades and back.
Unbalanced movement such as carrying a heavy suitcase or scrunching a telephone receiver between your shoulder and ear can strain the sternomastoid muscle which runs from the base of the skull below the ear down the front of the neck to the clavicle.
Mental stress may also cause neck pain. A common stress reaction to anger, fear, or depression is the tightening of the neck muscles. If prolonged, this muscle tightening builds up by-products that can cause muscle spasms. This brings on more pain and more spasms. To break the spasm-pain-spasm cycle (and the "tension headache" that frequently accompanies it), it's necessary to relax the neck muscles. Use mild neck exercises and gentle massage, along with rest and relaxation to prevent neck pain.