The Most Neglected Part of Your Body — The Neck

Did you know that unlike in movies and TV shows, it is nearly impossible for a normal human being to kill another by twisting a person’s neck?

While the media has made it look so simple, the human neck is a lot more complex and well-built than it seems.

via GIPHY

The Neck

The anatomical structure and design of the neck is absolutely brilliant. Considering that the neck is a very essential body part in our day-to-day living, it is not surprising that the neck is a complex body part. It is built with just the right amount of flexibility for us to rotate, flex and tilt while having a sturdy structure, such that it is able to support the weight of our head and other pressures.

Fun fact: The human head weighs nearly as much as the average bowling ball of around 4.5kg to 5.4kg.

The neck may not be very large, but inside this unassuming body part, it houses various vital organs and structures of the body:

Structures

  • Blood vessels – Supplies blood to our head
  • Nerves – protects and connects the nervous system between the back and the skull
  • Muscles – Provides mechanism for swallowing, speaking, yawning and moving of the head
  • Cervical region of the spinal cord – these 7 cervical vertebrae are commonly referred to as C-1 to C-7 that provides support and structure

Organs

  • Oesophagus (aka Food Pipe or Gullet) – Provides a passageway for our food to travel from our mouths to our stomach
  • Larynx (aka Voice Box) – houses the vocal cords that allow us to speak, talk, sing and shout.
  • Trachea (aka Windpipe) – A passageway for air to pass throughout all major body parts
  • Thyroid – Secrets thyroid hormones that primarily influences your metabolic rate and protein synthesis
  • Parathyroid glands – Produces parathyroid hormones that regulate the amount of calcium in the blood and within the bones
  • Lymph node – Contains a type of white blood cell that identifies and fights infection
  • Part of the spinal cord – Transmits neural signals to the brain and the rest of the body

While the neck is a pretty sturdy body part, it is also very fragile at the same time. Having so many essential structures and organs, the neck is prone to many injuries, strains and/or pains. This often happens when the neck’s structure is not in their natural positions and subjected to stress, pressure and/or abnormalities.

 

Common Neck Stress, Pressure and/or Abnormalities

Bad Sleeping Posture

I’m pretty sure all of us have, at least once in our lives, woken up from sleep with a stiff neck that annoyingly lasts throughout the day. Bad sleeping postures are more damaging than you think to not just your neck, but also your overall health.

Bad Sitting/Working Posture

For all working adults, the effects of poor posture and prolonged sitting will definitely be the most significant here. These two factors can cause detrimental effects to one’s health. There are MANY articles out there that talks about the effects and complications of prolonged sitting which includes increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer and death.

Here is a comprehensive infographic of how prolonged sitting affects a person’s health.

Image credit: The Washington Post

As the image also shows, proper posture will ensure that these effects are reduced. Simple tips such as take regular breaks from your desk by taking short breaks to stand up and walk around or to do some simple stretches will also help! (Refer here for some stretches you can do!)

Text Neck

With an increase in smartphone usage, it is no surprise that we are constantly hunched over our electronic devices. This causes a lot of pressure to be placed on our neck and shoulders.

Image credit: WTVR.com

(10lbs = ~4.5kg)

By having our body in this position, it puts extra pressure on our neck and spine which causes increased compressions. Hence, this can lead to chronic neck and shoulder pain.

Instead of tilting your head down, raise your electronic devices to eye level. At the same time, keep your back straightened.

Menstruation

When a woman is getting her period, her body goes through many changes. As we all know, these changes are often induced by the hormones.

The effects of menstruation can cause a variety of issues as we know – headaches, cramps and other bodily pains. This can result in some women experiencing (pre)menstrual neck pain due to the disorders caused by tissues in the neckline.

 

Solutions

Proper Postures – at work, sleeping or texting

The general rule of thumb is to always keep your back straight with your shoulders and ears aligned. Keeping this posture will ensure that your neck is in a neutral state and isn’t strained. If you’re working or texting, keep your devices propped up to eye level.

On the other hand, sleeping gives us rest and allows our body to replenish and repair. Therefore, getting a good night’s sleep is extremely important. This can be done by ensuring that you sleep in a proper posture or regularly change your pillow. Check out our articles on sleeping postures and pillows for a more detailed explanation!

Neck Stretches

As mentioned earlier, one way to prevent neck pains is to reduce prolonged sitting and be active. By doing neck stretches, this will allow muscles in the area to be stretched out and be relaxed.

Check out our article on 5 Ways to Get Rid of a Stiff Neck at Work!

Heat Therapy

When heat is applied to your neck/shoulder area, your blood vessels expand, allowing the promotion of blood circulation to the area. The increased blood flow provides proteins, nutrients, and oxygen to be circulated to the affected area and promotes healing.

This can be done by ending the day with a warm shower or using our NeckHeat that is built to provide fast comfort and relief to your aching neck muscles! Don’t neck-lect your neck!

 


Do write to us in the comments below if you face any neck pains and what might cause them! Don’t forget that your neck is as important as your other body parts!

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Tricia Tay

Tricia is an introverted extrovert; an introvert most of the time but an extrovert when she likes you. She is also a teh peng fanatic with a love for the red half of Manchester.
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