You know the feeling. You get out of bed, turn your head, and pain shoots from your neck down into your back!
Some knot in your neck, upper back or shoulders may have formed while you were sleeping. It’s a nuisance, but one that can affect your entire day if you don’t get rid of it. The techniques below are recommended for relieving some of that tension, but keep in mind the neck is a sensitive part of the body. Don’t perform any of these remedies without first consulting a doctor and confirming your sore neck is nothing more than a crick from sleeping.
Here are some tried and true suggestions for feeling like a million bucks:
How to Relieve Neck Pain: 3 Quick Fixes for a Stiff Neck
1. The first one is obvious: Rub it and stretch it.
But you gotta do it the right way. Like this:
- Find the sore spot
- Push the knot with your fingers, a tennis ball, or the corner of your doorway.
- Rub the knot up all the way into your neck and down into your lower back. Go further along the muscle than you think, or go further than where your back is sore. The knot may be unwound deep into your lower back and hips, even.
- While you rub it, turn your head in the direction opposite of the offending cramp. Touch your chin to your armpit. Basically, stretch the muscle as you rub it.
- Nod your head up and down by bringing your chin to your chest and then looking towards the ceiling. If it pains more stop the exercise.
- Nod your head from side to side. tilt your head towards the left side and right side to stretch your neck muscles.
- Turn your head slowly from left side to right side and vice versa for few minutes.
- Grasp your neck with your thumb on one side and your fingers on the other.
- Knead your neck by gently squeezing for 1 – 2 minutes.
2. Apply cold and heat.
But cold first. Here’s why: Heat may compress and tighten muscles, which could make it worse if you don’t first apply cold. Cold relieves neck pain by reducing lactic acid buildup. It also numbs the pain and helps against inflammation. After you chill out the knot in your neck or upper back, apply heat to increase blood circulation. Here’s a method from HomeRemediesforLife.com:
- Fill a plastic bag with ice/frozen peas/cold pack and wrap it in a towel.
- Apply to the neck, between the shoulders, or at the base of the head for 20 minutes.
- Apply a hot application, such as a hot shower or bath, a heating pad, hot water bottle, or hot towel, for 20 minutes.
- Repeat this for thrice a day until you get complete relief from the stiff neck.
Note: you can use artificial cold pack or bag of frozen peas.
3. Homeopathic herbs and oils
There are lots of homeopathic remedies, acupuncture, reflexology, and other techniques to help. Here are some specific tips:
- Menthol feels amazing on sore muscles. It has a cooling effect that’s perfect to relieve neck pain.
- Camphor reduces swelling and increases blood circulation, warming the application area.
- Capsaicin has anti-inflammatory properties that relieve pain by gently numbing the nerve endings in the application area.
- Turmeric supports healthy inflammation (but take it orally with black pepper to absorb its nutrients).
- Peppermint oil. Mix it with coconut oil and beeswax, warm it up and apply it to your neck.
How to Avoid a Sore Neck:
Sleep better! Sleep on your back or the side. Usually, neck pain comes from sleeping on your stomach and being forced to sleep at a weird angle. Side sleeping is better, but can still create some problems. So, try to sleep on your back.
Sleep with a small pillow. Large pillows can create awkward angles for your neck, spine, and shoulder, which causes tightness.
If you work long hours on a desk, you might be creating problems for your posture, back, and neck. Here are some tips:
- Keep your feet on the floor
- Keep your back straight
- Get a nice seat cushion
- Be aligned with your screen
- Find time to stand and move
When you’re looking at how to relieve neck and shoulder pain, you’ll find that stress can play a huge part in muscle tightness. Relax, meditate, exercise, and find healthy ways to relieve your stress!