Everyone experiences a stiff neck from time to time. Stiffness in the neck is relatively normal and can happen from things like sleeping in the wrong position or having bad posture. This can trigger a headache and general neck pain.
Things That Cause a Stiff Neck
One of the most common things that will cause a stiff neck is not using the right pillow and a firm mattress. People who frequently wake up with a stiff neck after sleeping should seriously consider getting a firm mattress and pillow fast. Though it may take a little while to get used to, this will ultimately help most people get rid of the pain.
However, individuals who experience a stiff neck for a week or more could be looking at significant problems. A chronic stiff neck can be an indicator of things like a pinched nerve in the neck, a herniated disc, a cervical spine issue or meningitis.
What Can You Do?
Just as there are a myriad of things that cause a sore neck, there is also a large number of remedies that can help people either deal with the painful effects at home or stop a crick in the neck before it even starts.
The best way to deal with a stiff neck is to stop it before it even starts, and the best way to do this is with exercises that strengthen the neck. While these exercises should not be done daily, performing them a few times per week will help you keep any sort of pain at bay. In addition to strengthening the neck muscles, they are great for your posture.
- Back Burn
The exercise is performed while standing with your back against a completely flat surface. Feet should be placed slightly in front of the body. Begin with the head touching the wall and attempt to flatten the lower back. Put your arms against the wall at about the height of your shoulders. Then, move them over your head and back down. This can be repeated about a dozen times every three to six hours.
- Chin Tuck
This is a great exercise for stopping any sort of back pain in addition to improving your posture. It helps to align the shoulders while stretching a range of muscles. It is best if people do this exercise several times every day, and it can be done almost anywhere. All you have to do is tuck in your chin and pull your head and neck backwards.
Stretching is a great tool to help deal with recurring neck stiffness. These stretches can be done daily or even more than once per day safely. They may also be performed to relieve some of the tense feeling that people feel when they are experiencing a stiff neck.
- Levator Scapula Stretch
This stretches a muscle that can become very sore at the shoulder and contribute to a still neck. People can do the stretch either standing or sitting. They first move their elbow over their shoulder and rest it against a wall. They should then stretch their neck by moving their chin downwards and away from their elbow. It is then possible to increase the stretch by using their other hand to pull their head forward. The position can be held for up to a minute and will help alleviate shoulder pain.
- Corner Stretch
This stretch is great for the chest and shoulders and can definitely help people who suffer from a persistent stiff neck. All they have to do is head to the corner of a room and stand a few feet back facing the corner.
After placing their feet together, they put their forearms on the wall. Their elbows should be placed slightly below their shoulders. Leaning in as far as possible without overdoing it and causing pain will stretch the chest and shoulders. This position can be held up to a minute, and it can be done several times per day.
Gentle Yoga for Stiff Neck
Heat and Cold
One great way to get rid of a stiff neck is by using a cold compress followed by some sort of heat treatment. First, hold some ice wrapped in a cloth to the area that feels sore. You can really use anything frozen. Just make sure to relax while applying it. After about half an hour, it is time to apply some heat. You can do this by either warming up some towels in the dryer or getting into a hot bath or shower. This is both an effective and therapeutic way of dealing with neck pain.
Studies have shown that the majority of people who suffer from stiff necks can benefit from wearing a neck collar. Individuals who choose this route should be wary of several things. They should make sure that the collar they choose is soft so that they are able to move their neck freely. In addition, it is never a good idea to wear a collar for more than a week or so. This can cause damage to neck muscles that need to move regularly in order to stay healthy.
It can be much harder to heal neck stiffness that stems from underlying medical problems. When these issues occur, stretching and exercise alone will not make the pain go away. This is often one sign of a pinched nerve or slipped disc. These are very serious issues, and treatments range from muscle relaxants to surgery. Always go to the hospital right away if you have trouble moving or if the pain does not subside after a couple of days.
If people have additional symptoms, they really should go to the doctor right away. Stiffness in the neck can be one sign of a number of very serious conditions including a heart attack. Be particularly vigilant if you are also dizzy, experience pain in the chest or begin vomiting.
No one has to go through life experiencing a stiff neck on a regular basis. Whether your pain is caused by a medical condition or just plain bad posture, you can always find a treatment that will provide relief.
However, it is important for people to accurately determine the underlying cause of their stiff neck if it has become a serious issue. Doing so can greatly assist in finding the right course of action to treat neck pain. In order to do this, people who have begun to have problems with getting a stiff neck regularly should see their doctor right away.