Wearing masks have become the new normal—it has also literally become “a pain in the neck”. Those of us required to wear masks for prolonged periods of time often start to feel pain and discomfort around the neck, jaw, and head.
Chiropractors believe the reason behind the pain is that masks can limit the lower field of vision—particularly if they are not well fitted—causing people to tuck in their chins, shift their body position and hold their necks and posture stiffly to maintain a line of sight.
If you experience aches and pain after wearing a protective mask for long periods, here are simple steps to help improve vision and prevent musculoskeletal strain.
Be aware of your head, neck, shoulder, arm and body positions while wearing your mask. Try to move as normally as possible.
Take a close look at the mask you are wearing to identify obstructions in your visual field that could be making you compensate by unnaturally shifting your head, neck or body posture. Try out different masks until you find one that stays in place, covering the mouth and nose without obstructing vision. Use masks with adjustable elastic or ties so they are snug but not too tight.
Position your mask for maximum protection while optimizing your posture and movements. Fit your mask closely to the contour of the bridge of your nose as well as your cheeks. This will minimize reduction in your visual field.
People that must wear glasses often have issues with lens fogging, necessitating special tactics to maintain clear vision. One solution is to try adhesives strips that can keep the mask sealed to your cheeks and bridge. Anothertrick for glasses with adjustable nosepads is to adjust them so the glasses stand out a little further from the bridge of your nose to allow your breath more area to escape.
Take frequent breaks to lean back, move and stretch in the opposite direction to relieve cumulative tension or pressure. Try to flex the jaw, neck, shoulders and upper spine. When possible, take a walk outside to relieve stress.
Mask-wearing has been going on for a year and may continue into the future, so it is important to address your pain related to face masks early. By doing so, you will start to alleviate your pain and can prevent a chronic condition from forming.
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