It's easy to brush off waking up once or twice with a stiff neck as “I just slept wrong”. But if you consistently wake up with a stiff neck for days, weeks or months frustration and anxiety take over. You start to question everything in your life. Do I have the right pillow? Is my computer set up right for me? Do I need monthly massages? Do I need weekly neck adjustments? Is there a way to permanently stop this neck stiffness to get back to sleeping, working and playing?
You start with looking at your pillow...it's old or maybe it was cheap so you decide to look at replacing it with the hopes it will get you a nice relaxing night of sleep. Then you stay up late researching all the different pillow types... thick pillows, thin pillows, a curved pillow, memory foam or one that looks like a donut? Now you are overwhelmed by the number of choices you have to make to replace your old pillow. How is anyone supposed to make a good decision?
Here is the truth about pillows: The ONLY thing that matters about a pillow is this….. that keeps your spine in a neural position? That's all.
Unfortunately, you will have to try out a few pillows (just like you would shoes). BUT when you find a pillow that supports your head, keeping your spine in a relatively straight line, then you’ve found the right pillow for you.
Personally, I am a 50% back and 50% side sleeper which made it hard to find a pillow that would keep my spine straight in both positions. There is a pillow on the market that has firm sides, perfect for side sleeping, and lower “hole”, for back sleeping. (tri-core cervical support pillow is one version of this pillow)
When I found this pillow it was amazing, I was so comfortable that I’d pass out the moment my head hit it. I can still remember how shocked I was one morning when I woke up with a stiff neck. I felt completely let down. As I was trying to figure out why I was waking up in the state. I replayed the last several days. I had been driving more, I’d been typing on the computer more and since my days had been longer I’d been more stressed then normal.
That’s when I realized that I was asking this amazing pillow to fix what I had been overworking all day long.
After my self evaluation...it was obvious that my posture was the real problem for my neck. I’d spent more time with a slouched posture.
Spending my days driving all over Houston, sitting at my computer and dealing with one stressful situation after another was causing me to sit with my head forward, raise my shoulder and round my back. ALL of which add stress to my neck and shoulder muscles. Effectively I was making my neck and shoulder muscle work over time then blaming my pillow for the troubles.
No matter what type of pillow you buy, if your neck muscles are constantly overworked throughout the day you will never get rid of that neck stiffness for long.
So I made time to set up my desk and bought all the equipment I’d been holding off on getting to make my workstation more ergonomic.
I set up a cue to remind myself to sit up straight in my car, on my couch and while texting.
The last suggestion I can make to you about how to stop neck stiffness from interfering with your work, your sleep and your favorite recreational activities is to see a physical therapist. A physical therapist is uniquely able to assess your cervical spine alignment and motion with a hands on exam. They can assess and correct your posture and give you tips and guidance on how to set up your workstation to fit your body and needs. They can do all this with a personalized plan designed just for you and your lifestyle not simply a one size fits all program.
If the type of care described in this blog is what you are looking for but at the moment you are looking for more information then check out my Free Ebook just below. If you have a specific question about your situation and you would just like to talk to someone then click the link below to set up a phone call with a physical therapist.
WE HELP ACTIVE ADULTS OVERCOME THEIR ACHES AND PAINS TO GET THEM BACK TO THEIR FAVORITE ACTIVITIES WITHOUT MEDICATION, INJECTIONS OR SURGERIES.
Dr. Molly McDonald