If you call someone a pain in the neck, you're using a phrase that originated around 1900 to clean up a saying that mentioned a different anatomical location. But that shift made the phrase much more medically accurate.
Neck pain affects around 80% of people during their lifetime, and as many as 20% to 50% of people deal with it every year. Stress is one of the main causes; just notice how you raise your shoulders and pinch your neck when someone makes you tense.
Other causes of neck pain range from binge-watching programs or leaning forward to look at your phone or computer screen (called "tech-neck"), to slouching when you sit, sleeping on your stomach, or using a too-thick pillow. Or for women, wearing a bra that isn't supportive enough.
Here are some simple ways to avoid a sore or stiff neck:
• Use a U-shaped travel pillow around your neck to support your head when you are leaning back to watch TV.
• When sitting for prolonged periods, get up and walk for two minutes every half-hour and whenever you're on the phone.
• Sit upright when looking at a computer screen or phone — shoulders back, chin up. If needed, move the computer screen closer to you or raise it up to eye level.
• For bras, take weight off your shoulders and neck by wearing posture or sports bras with a wide back band and strong front support.
• Ease neck stress with easy and effective stress-busting meditation and breathing exercises.