If you experience soreness and difficulty moving your head, you may be dealing with a stiff neck. With this condition, you may also get a headache and feel shoulder or arm pain.
Straining your neck happens when you overuse or overstretch your neck muscles, but it may also stem from whiplash and arthritis, among others.
How Can You Relieve a Stiff Neck?
Neck pain eventually subsides, but it may last longer if left untreated. Hence, immediate care for a stiff neck is vital.
If neck pain and stiffness disrupt your daily activities, the following remedies may help:
Apply Heat or Ice
Heat stimulates blood flow to the body while ice slows it down, leading to less inflammation and swelling. Applying both to your neck may ease strained or torn muscles and encourage healing.
So if you’ve overstretched your neck or another part of your body, heat and ice can help soothe any pain you may feel. You can try following these methods with ice, heat, or both to relieve a stiff neck further:
- Apply ice for 20 minutes several times a day. Use a cold compress, so the ice doesn’t touch your skin.
- Take a warm bath or shower.
- Use a heating pad.
Perform Gentle Stretches
Stretching is another good remedy for a stiff neck; this activity can loosen up tight muscles and prevent potential flare-ups in the future. You can choose from several recommended simple stretching exercises to help with a stiff neck.
Basic stretches like bending your neck backward or rolling your shoulders are great places to start. But before you perform complicated exercises, don’t forget to plan a manageable routine with a doctor or physical therapist.
Once you’ve set your exercise routine, stretch gently and slowly. Otherwise, you may feel more pain and get re-injured. Most importantly, follow the steps for your chosen exercise carefully.
Seek Chiropractic Care
This remedy for a stiff neck requires you to see an expert chiropractor who will manipulate your muscles and joints to ease your pain. Many chiropractors focus on specific parts of the body, including the neck. They may use techniques ranging from controlled movements to special devices that can help relieve pain, improve mobility, and increase flexibility, among other benefits.
Acupuncture involves a practitioner inserting needles into specific pressure points on your body. In turn, it can ease stress, tension, and pain and even encourages the body to soothe pain naturally.
Acupuncture is a safe procedure, but it’s best to have a professional perform it. Go to a certified practitioner and check if they use sterilized needles.
Restrict Any Activity Causing a Stiff Neck
A chiropractor will set a suitable rest period for you depending on the injury’s severity, which can take days or weeks. They’ll also be able to go into detail about what other activities to avoid and what you can do to encourage recovery.
For the meantime, if a particular activity triggers a stiff neck, it’s best to avoid doing it until the stiffness subsides. Consider restricting heavy lifting and activities that may worsen the pain. Rest is the safest thing to do during the healing process.
Sitting in a car or desk can hurt your body, including your neck. So, don’t forget to take a break, move around, and gently stretch your neck often. You can set alarms on your smartphone if you need a reminder for your breaks.
Ergonomics is about adapting your work area, schedule, or tasks to fit your body and needs. This system helps improve how you work, especially if you’re diagnosed with a chronic condition. To make your workspace more ergonomic, try the following tips:
- Get an adjustable office chair. Reach out to your HR representative for an ergonomic assessment of your workspace so they can provide equipment for your exact needs.
- Adjust the chair for correct and comfortable sitting posture. Keep your feet flat on the floor and your knees a little lower than your hips.
- Maintain proper sitting posture. Sit with a straight back and arms level with your desk.
- Set your computer at eye level. Place your monitor or laptop on a phone directory book or adjustable stand.
- When you’re seated and looking at your screen, remember to position your ears, shoulders, and hips in a straight line to support your weight evenly through your spine.
- Set up a docking station for multiple monitors.
- Put your documents on a stand-up clipboard. This way, your head won’t always move up or down.
- Keep your elbows near your body while using a mouse and keyboard. It’ll help you put less pressure on your shoulder muscles.
- Take calls with a headset. A stiff neck can occur when one puts a phone receiver in the crook of the neck.
Sleep with the Right Pillow
In Byrdie’s guide on how to get rid of a stiff neck, New Jersey-based physical therapist Sridhar Yalamanchili recommends using a pillow with a contour supporting the neck’s natural curve. A simple pillow will do for a stiff neck.
Also, Yalamanchili advises readers to put a neck roll under their current pillow. If you choose one or the other, let your body adapt to the change gradually.
Ease & Manage a Stiff Neck with Effective Remedies
A stiff neck can interfere with your daily activities. It can come with pain, limit your neck’s movement, and trigger other symptoms like headaches. Addressing a stiff neck right away using these helpful remedies will help you on the road to recovery.