Did you know that about 20 percent of people complain about having a stiff or painful neck in the last 90 days? But a stiff neck doesn’t have to be something you just live with or suffer through. Here are some simple, effective techniques for dealing with a stiff neck.
What causes a stiff neck?
Most of the time a stiff neck is a result of weak muscles caused by bad posture or overuse. Everywhere you look, you see heads bent down over phones and computers. That position and lack of movement will stretch your neck muscles and cause fatigue. Other activities such as driving for long periods or talking on the phone can cause this to happen as well. When your neck muscles fatigue, your neck joints can get displaced.
Over time, neck stiffness can worsen. The joints move less easily and you could find it difficult to turn your head. Pulled muscles or even nerve irritation can develop as well, and that slightly stiff neck has turned into a sudden pain you can’t ignore.
Stretches can help your stiff neck
Let’s try and keep neck stiffness away by using a few adjustments and exercises. Try moving your computer monitor to eye level so you aren’t looking down all day. If you have to drive a long distance, stop regularly to take breaks. Be aware of keeping your head and neck in the same position for too long.
Some of the best ways to alleviate neck pain are simple stretching exercises. Try these:
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together ten times.
- Push your head back and rest it on your car’s headrest or in your hands. Hold the position for 30 seconds.
- Roll your shoulders backwards and downwards ten times.
- Tilt your head and touch your ear to your shoulder. Try it ten times to each side.
Sleeping positions make a difference
The way we sleep can make a big impact on our neck. Sleeping on your stomach is a big no-no. Sleep only on your side or back. By sleeping on your stomach, you force your head to turn one way or the other for several hours. In addition, sleeping on your stomach hurts your lower back as your stomach sinks into the mattress and your back is left unsupported.
Try these treatments at home
For a normal sore neck, try the following:
- Use ice or heat on the affected area. Ice is great for the first 2 to 3 days, and after that you should use some heat. Heating pads, hot compresses, or even a warm shower can be effective. But don’t leave ice or heat on while sleeping – you don’t want a skin injury.
- Use over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
- Keep moving, but not to the point of pain. Try to minimize jerking movements that move your head suddenly.
- Do gentle, slow exercises like the ones mentioned above to stretch your neck muscles.
- Get a friend or loved one to rub the painful area gently.
- Try a specialized neck pillow, or even a firmer mattress. Experiment to see what helps your neck feel better.
If none of these treatments work and your pain is too much to get through your normal daily activities, then it’s time to contact your physician. Over the last 20+ years, Innovative Chiropractic has helped hundreds and hundreds of patients with recurring neck stiffness. We can help you, too. Don’t wait to deal with your neck stiffness. Call today.