Is there a correct way to sneeze???

Have you ever sneezed and began feeling numbness or tingling in your neck, down your shoulders or into your arms and hands?  Have you ever felt a sharp pain in your neck during or immediately after sneezing?  You’re not alone.

Sneezing is one of the most violent inflictions we can have to our spine, especially our necks.  It is the result of unconscious massive muscle contractions of your diaphragm and abdominal muscles.

It also naturally takes us into the most awkward and vulnerable position for injuring our spine:  a forward flexed and usually rotated position of our head and upper body.

The Cause of Pain:  Most commonly, people have an underlying condition of a disc protrusion or small herniation in the NECK or LOWER BACK.  Again, you’re not alone.

I think the most common estimate of 3-5 percent of neck or lower back pain being the caused by disc pathology is highly underestimated. After 32 years of practice and taking a ton of MRI’s that can prove or disprove the concept of whether a disc is protruding, herniated or not, I estimate that about 60-80 percent of neck and back pain in adults over the age of 30 is either precipitated or somehow involves the segment where the disc compression is causing a bulge, protrusion or herniation.

The reason is that either the disc is causing direct pressure on surrounding nerves, is causing leaking or a chronic chemical irrational, or is causing a reactive muscle guarding or splinting response that ends up causing pain in the surrounding muscle, ligaments, tendons or joints.

The take home is that with the prevalence of disc compression in people over 30, it is EXTREMELY important to know HOW TO SNEEZE and how NOT TO SNEEZE.

When you feel an urge coming on, immediately try to get yourself in an upright position and into the best possible posture (head up and with your back in a neutral or extended (gymnast type) position.

Try to bend your knees like your sitting on a high stool and LOOK FORWARD.  Finally try to hold on to a chair or table out in front of you keeping your body stable and then finally LET IT GO, freely letting the violent wind out through your mouth.

The DO NOTS are directly the opposite.  Do not hold your sneeze in as this only increases more pressure in and around your spine.  And probably the worst offense people do is what is very natural and generally the most polite, DO NOT TURN away and sneeze downward!!

This is the absolute key to not exacerbating a current condition, but also it is extremely important to not set your spine into an extremely vulnerable position for herniating a disc.

Usually we know when a sneeze (and a cough for that matter which should also be treated the same way) is coming so we can prepare ourselves for the event.

Follow these guideline and you’ll certainly decrease your chances of injuring yourself during this most common natural phenomena.

And to further decrease your chances of neck pain, don’t sleep on an ordinary pillow which also forces your head into a forward flexed position.  Rather sleep on PILLO1, the revolutionary pillow design that naturally keeps your head in a neutral position while you sleep.

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