neck pain

  1. Massage eases neck pain

    The delightful secret to beating that crick in the neck

    It's a REAL pain in the neck!

    Neck pain is rapidly catching up to back pain as one of the nation's most common forms of day-to-day agony.

    I think staring down at cellphones and being hunched in front of computers is the reason for it... but if you already have neck pain, you don't want to debate the cause.

    You want relief!

    Well, friend, today I have it in spades.

    There's a simple, safe, drug-free, and highly effective way to kick the crick right out of your neck and ease the agony.

    And you're going to LOVE it!

    The answer could be a tension-easing neck massage.

    It's not just a great way to melt off stress and ease tight muscles -- because new research finds that it's also highly effective at chasing away neck pain.

    The new study focused specifically on a form of neck massage from traditional Chinese medicine called tui na.

    At the start of the study, folks rated their pain levels at a mean of 57.7 on a 100-point scale.

    But that changed in a hurry.

    Six massage sessions over three weeks cut pain levels by 45 percent!

    They dropped all the way down to 31.2, and the results held long after the massages came to an end.

    Three months after the start of the study... and more than two months after the last massage... they had a mean pain score of 30.1.

    A second set of patients who thought they were on a waiting list for massages -- but never got them -- reported almost no improvements at all, down to 53.9 points at four weeks and 48.1 at three months.

    While the study focused on tui na, there's evidence that many other types of muscle-soothing massages, from Swedish to shiatsu, are just as effective for both back and neck pain.

    The key is in making sure it's the real deal. A massage from a skilled practitioner can chase away the pain, while random rubs from a well-meaning friend or relative could have the opposite effect.

    To get even better results, combine massage with other non-drug treatments, including spinal manipulation, physical therapy, and natural anti-inflammatory treatments.

    Once you've eased or eliminated the pain, your work's not over yet.

    Neck pain is often caused by lifestyle habits like using those computers and cellphones I mentioned earlier.

    If you don't change those habits, it's bound to come back.

    Adjust your chair... adjust your computer... and don't spend so much time craning your neck over a small screen. In addition, give your back and neck a good stretch with some basic daily exercises. Your doc or physical therapist can give you some pointers, or you can find some examples online.

  2. Your iPad is a pain in the neck

    It's the very definition of a "First World Problem" -- how to hold your iPad without getting a crick in your neck.

    But it's enough of a problem these days to catch the attention of researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, who say most people hold their iPads -- and other tablets -- in ways that are almost guaranteed to cause neck pain.

    In tests on an iPad and a rival machine, the Motorola Xoom, the researchers found four basic positions: on the lap with a case, on the lap without a case, propped up on the desk slightly, and propped up all the way -- almost like a computer monitor.

    It's that last one they say is best for you... but that kinda defeats the purpose of a tablet, doesn't it? If you have to prop it on a desk, it's really just a computer with a smaller screen.

    So you can bet most people will keep their tablets in their laps -- and a quick Google search turns up plenty of complaints over what's been dubbed "iPad Neck."

    You can add that to the growing list of pains caused by high-tech gadgets.

    People get back pain from lugging around laptops, carpal tunnel from typing on them all day, BlackBerry thumb (or iPhone thumb) from the overuse of smartphones and who knows what's coming next -- Siri throat, perhaps, from the overuse of voice-activated features on their iPhones.

    None of this -- not the technology or the pain -- is going away anytime soon. But that doesn't mean you have to give up your tech to avoid the pain, either.

    Just be smart about your smartphones, tablets and computers and how you use them. Go online and get some ergonomic pointers for your device -- and don't forget to get up every now and then, move around and stretch your neck, wrists and fingers.

    And if you're going to fire up the Netflix app or watch some YouTube cat videos on your iPad, take the Harvard advice and prop it up on your desk.

    Your neck will thank you.

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