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Article posted: 11/18/2013 5:30 AM

Your health: How to avoid neck pain

A pain in the neck

Everyday life isn't kind to the neck.

You may be all too familiar with that crick you get when you cradle the phone between your shoulder and ear, or the strain you feel after working at your computer, says Harvard Medical School.

Neck pain rarely starts overnight. It usually evolves over time. And it may be spurred by arthritis or degenerative disk disease and accentuated by poor posture, declining muscle strength, stress, and even a lack of sleep, says Dr. Zacharia Isaac, medical director of the Comprehensive Spine Care Center at Brigham and Women's Hospital, and director of interventional physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School.

The following tips can help you take care of your neck:

Don't stay in one position for too long.

Make some ergonomic adjustments. Position your computer monitor at eye level so you can see it easily. Use the hands-free function on your phone or wear a headset. Prop your touch-screen tablet on a pillow so that it sits at a 45 angle, instead of lying flat on your lap.

If you wear glasses, keep your prescription up-to-date. "When your eyewear prescription is not up to date, you tend to lean your head back to see better," Dr. Isaac says.

Cutting 100 calories

The road to a better body isn't starvation or hours at the gym: Instead, it's all about making small changes that lead to big results, says Fabfitfun.com.

A University of Colorado-Denver study found those who increased their steps to 2,000 per day and cut 100 calories were more likely to lose weight than those who did not, the website reports.

Here's some tips on how to cut out 100 calories:

Swap cheese on your lunchtime sandwich for lettuce and tomato -- you'll save 100 calories and munch on some veggies in the process.

Use skim or 1 percent milk in your morning cereal and/or coffee order.

Eat half your morning bagel instead of a whole.

Skip the croutons on your salad. Double bonus points if you swap your regular salad dressing for reduced-calorie or nix the cheese on your salad.

Use healthy baking substitutions the next time you whip up a cake or batch of brownies. Try replacing half the recipe's butter with applesauce or mashed bananas.

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