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Is Your Pillow a Pain in the Neck?


If you've got neck pain your pillow could be the primary culprit. Many people sleep on pillows that are too high, too low, too stiff, or too soft.

The wrong pillow can strain your muscles, compress your nerves, and wear out your joints. That's no way to start the day, so follow these pillow-picking principles to find the bedtime support that's right for you.

Conformity Called For

Conforming to the norm may not be great for humans, but it's exactly what we want our pillows to do. Harvard Health suggests using either a memory foam pillow or a feather pillow to make sure the pillow conforms to the shape of your head and neck each night.

Another option may be to get a high-quality water pillow.

By conforming to the shape of your head and your neck you ensure your neck muscles don't have to work all night long to keep your head in a comfortable position.

Hard or Soft?

It depends on how you sleep.

If you sleep on your stomach experts recommend a soft pillow. You're not putting as much weight on your neck that way, and you want something that you can position for breathing.

But if you sleep on your side or your back, a firm pillow is what you'll want.

What if you toss, turn, and change positions throughout the night? In that case, you'll want an ergonomic, concave pillow with plenty of support. Try searching for pillows made exclusively for combination sleepers when you go looking.

The Mattress Matters, Too

If fixing your pillow doesn't fix your neck pain you might turn your attention to your mattress, next. According to Consumer Reports, your best bet may be an adjustable mattress like a Sleep Number, which lets you switch up the firmness of the mattress as well as the position. Through trial and error you should be able to find the firmness that's right for you.

If a Sleep Number mattress is outside of your budget, Consumer Reports recommends going to a firmer mattress, instead. Again, support is the name of the game.

Still no relief?

If you've changed up your sleeping habits and still can't get your back and neck pain to stop, it may be time to consult a chiropractor. If your neck is already out of alignment your pillow and mattress might not matter much. Get an adjustment, follow your chiropractor's instructions about additional therapies, and try again.

You might just find the combination of prevention and cure is enough to give you way more pain-free days.
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When The Daily Commute is a Pain in the Everything


Nobody loves their morning commute. Or their afternoon commute. And while it would be nice to think we could all pick up, move, and end up closer to work, that's not always the case.

Being a road warrior has impacts on mental health and happiness. You didn't need scientists to tell you that. What you might not have realized is it can also have a substantial impact on the health of your back, neck, and knees.

You can't exactly start teleporting to your job either, so here are a few tips for dealing with the daily commute.

Exercise to mitigate back and neck pain.

Prolonged periods of sitting, especially in an unnatural position, are two of the drivers (no pun intended) of commuting pain. Certain muscles tighten up and shorten while others lose strength.

"Sitting is the new smoking," but most of us can't do much about having to do it. What you can do is make it a point to do some strengthening and stretching exercises every day so you can give your muscles what they need to stay strong.

Address your driving posture.

We've all done the rapid-fire seat adjustment after the taller or shorter family member has used the car before us. But how much thought do you actually give to your seat position?

Once you've got the seat close enough for you to comfortably reach the foot pedals, you need to start thinking about seat height. Your hips and knees need to be level. Adjusting the recline of your seat and the steering wheel position until you aren't putting any strain on your body is equally important.

Bring portable comfort.

Soothie's not the type of company that's going to hammer its product every blog post, but in this case it's really worth mentioning. Soothie can give your lower back the support it just doesn't get in any natural vehicle seat.

Add the hot or cold comfort to ease painful muscles and you might just have a more bearable commute. Which means a more bearable work day, because you won't be in such a foul mood after your commute.

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