Most of us take our necks for granted. That is, until it begins to ache. And just to make sure it’s got our attention, a painful neck will begin to “lock up” so that we lose motion, most notably, in rotation. One day you are able to turn your head comfortably, and the next day, there is a painfully abrupt “stop” to that formally free movement.

The reason chronic neck pain and stiffness is so prevalent is because many people spend a good deal of their days (and nights) literally abusing this portion of their spine. The neck is engineered for motion. It should provide us with a full 180° panoramic view from left to right. Normally it allows us to look up at the stars and down at our feet without limitation or discomfort. But for the neck that’s been mistreated, such is not the case.

Because the neck is designed for mobility, and not for stability, you and I need to be mindful of the static strains that we place on our necks—day and night. For when the head/neck is held in positions which put harmful shearing or compressive forces on the joints and discs of the spine, wear and tear will occur sooner or later.

So if you want to steer clear of neck-abuse, here’s a list of potentially harmful activities to avoid:


  1. Sitting/standing with slouched posture
  2. Reading with your head hanging down
  3. Knitting/sewing in your lap
  4. Talking with a phone cradled between your ear and shoulder
  5. Lifting heavy items by raising your shoulders up toward your ears
  6. Slumping forward at your desk to read/write
  7. Leaning in toward your computer screen with your chin in order to see better


  1. Propping up just your head in bed to read
  2. Sleeping on your side or back with your pillows too high or too low
  3. Stomach sleeping—a real yikes!

If you are interested in a “photo expose” of all the neck-approved, ergonomic fixes for the above insults, pick up/download a copy of my Overcoming Back and Neck Pain book or visit my website and check out my Free Resources page.


Image: Flickr

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