Most of us expertise a stiff neck from time to time—however that doesn’t make it any extra nice (or much less painful) to take care of. Luckily, there are steps you’ll be able to take to alleviate the signs of a stiff neck and really feel extra free, relaxed, and comfy.
Let’s check out six methods you should use to do away with your stiff neck.
What causes a stiff neck?
Before we bounce into suggestions to alleviate the signs of stiff neck, let’s rapidly contact on a few of the explanation why your neck could be feeling stiff—beginning with posture.
“It’s no secret that most of us spend a good portion of our day looking at a phone and/or a computer screen,” says physician of physical therapy and yoga instructor Kristina Kehoe. And all that point observing a display screen can lead to posture points.
“Typically, we sit with what’s called ‘forward head posture,’ where the shoulders are rounded forward and the head is held forward, where the ears are lining up in front of the shoulder,” continues Kehoe. “This causes the muscles in the back of the neck and back to work harder to hold our head and neck up”—which may lead to a stiff neck.
Another perpetrator which may be taking part in into your neck stiffness? Too a lot stress.
“[When we’re stressed], we tend to hold a lot of tension in our shoulders or neck,” says Kehoe. “If you’re tensing your shoulders and surrounding muscles all day, these muscles can get tense and stiff.”
Not transferring sufficient all through the day—or staying in a single place for too lengthy (for instance, sitting at a desk or sleeping in an uncomfortable place)—may also trigger neck stiffness.
“The biggest cause of stiff neck is lack of movement,” says Tony Matoska, physician of bodily remedy and clinic supervisor for Athletico Physical Therapy in Muskego, WI. “Many people find themselves sitting in one place too long throughout the day, which causes joints to stiffen and muscles to tighten.”
Clearly, there are a number of elements that could possibly be inflicting signs of a stiff neck. But the query is, how do you alleviate these signs?
Do neck workouts…
One of the finest methods to alleviate neck stiffness? Doing workouts and stretches that concentrate on the neck. Some workouts you might have considered trying to incorporate into your each day routine to alleviate the signs of a stiff neck embody:
Chin tuck. The chin tuck train “will help improve posture throughout the day to avoid the forward head posture,” says Kehoe—and the stiff neck that may typically include it.
“To perform a chin tuck, you want to sit with a neutral posture—so shoulders in line with your hips and ears aligned with your shoulders,” says Kehoe. “Draw your chin back while keeping your jaw and shoulders relaxed.”
For finest outcomes, Kehoe recommends repeating the chin tuck between 10 and 20 occasions in a single session—and biking by between 5 and 10 periods all through the day.
Upper lure stretches. The higher lure muscle groups are positioned on each side of your neck—and “these are the muscles that get especially tight with stress since they’re the muscles we use to raise our shoulders towards our ears,” says Kehoe. “This stretch will help to decrease tension in these large muscles and can be very effective when stress is a main culprit of your neck stiffness.”
To stretch your higher lure muscle groups, “draw the right ear towards the right shoulder to feel a stretch on the left side of the neck,” says Kehoe. “If it’s tolerable, gently pull down on the side of the head towards the right [shoulder] to feel a deeper stretch.”
Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds; then, repeat on the left aspect.
Levator Scapulae Stretch. Another muscle to goal if you need to loosen up your neck? The levator scapulae.
“The levator scapulae is a muscle to the side and back of the neck,” says Kehoe. “In my experience, a lot of knots live in this muscle when the neck is stiff. Stretching this area out can help with overall mobility and stiffness of the neck.”
For this stretch, “start by bringing the right ear to the right shoulder,” says Kehoe. “After you’ve achieved that position, slowly turn your head towards your right armpit. You should feel a stretch on the left side of the neck—but more in the back of the neck when compared to the upper trap stretch.”
Hold the stretch for between 20 and 30 seconds, then swap to the left aspect. Repeat the course of two to 3 times per aspect.
…and yoga poses
Yoga can be a good way to alleviate neck stiffness. Some yoga poses which might be particularly useful for stiff neck embody:
Standing Forward Fold. Standing ahead fold is a foundational yoga pose that’s additionally nice for the neck because it “allows gravity to help decrease stress on the spine in the neck and open up the joint space in the neck,” says Kehoe.
To get into the pose, “stand with your feet hip width apart. Slowly roll your spine down to bring your hands towards the floor,” says Kehoe. “Keep a slight bend in your knees to avoid putting excess strain on your back.”
You can both hold your fingertips on the flooring or cradle your elbows in reverse palms. From there, “Allow your head to hang heavy toward the floor,” says Kehoe. “You can gently sway side to side or nod the head yes/ no if that feels comfortable.”
Remain in the posture for five to 8 breaths.
Thread the needle. This posture “helps open up the upper back and neck and relieves tension,” says Kehoe.
To thread the needle, “start on all fours,” says Kehoe. “Reach the right arm through the left arm, coming down onto the right shoulder if that feels comfortable.”
Hold right here for 3-5 breaths, then repeat with the left arm.
Supported fish pose. This yoga pose “helps to improve the mobility through your thoracic spine…[which is important because] when this area is not moving well, the neck can compensate and feel stiff,” says Jackie Fenton, physician of bodily remedy, yoga teacher, and proprietor of Bright Heart Yoga Studio.
To get into the posture, place a pillow, block, or foam curler between your shoulder blades and perpendicular to your backbone. With your knees bent and toes flat on the flooring, lean again in opposition to the pillow, block, or foam curler and put your palms behind your head, permitting your chest to open. Stay in the posture for 10 breaths.
Adjust your workstation
As talked about, spending all day sitting at a desk can play a serious function in neck stiffness. So, if you need your neck to really feel much less stiff, making a extra ergonomic workstation is a good step.
There are a wide range of methods to replace your workstation to be extra neck-friendly, together with:
- Put your monitor at eye degree. “If you’re spending the day looking up or down at a monitor, you will inevitably have stiff muscles because those are not positions that are great for our head, neck, or shoulders,” says Kehoe. “Keeping the monitor at a point where it’s level with your gaze allows you to maintain good posture throughout the day.”
- Adjust your desk and chair to guarantee your toes are resting flat on the flooring. “Make sure your desk height clears the knees and thighs,” says Matoska. “If your chair is too tall, use a footrest to ensure your feet are resting flat.”
- Use a headset for cellphone calls. Holding your cellphone between your neck and shoulders is a surefire manner to develop a stiff neck—so “use a headset and/or place a speaker close for calls to avoid cradling the phone between your shoulder and neck,” says Matoska.
Get a therapeutic massage
Another nice (and enjoyable!) manner to discover aid from a stick neck? Booking a therapeutic massage.
“Massage can definitely help a stiff neck…whether the neck stiffness is more acute or chronic,” says Kehoe. “Massage can help promote blood flow to tense muscles and improve muscle relaxation to help decrease pain.”
Let your therapeutic massage therapist know you’re experiencing a stiff neck—and as they’re working, allow them to know if the stress feels too intense or you end up tensing up.
For additional advantage, ask your therapeutic massage therapist to present some TLC to the areas surrounding your neck. (*6*) says Matoska.
Invest in a brand new pillow
Do you discover your neck is most stiff in the morning? “If you’re finding that you continually wake up with a stiff neck—and it improves over the day—it’s possible that your pillow may be a culprit,” says Kehoe.
If you’re utilizing a mushy, fluffy pillow, it could be time to swap issues up. Kehoe recommends reminiscence foam pillows which might be contoured to permit the neck to keep in a snug, supported place all through the night time—as opposed to mushy pillows, which don’t provide as a lot help and could possibly be a contributing issue to stiff neck.
Try foam rolling
Foam rollers are nice instruments for exercise restoration—and, because it seems, they’re additionally nice instruments for coping with neck stiffness.
To assist alleviate signs of neck stiffness, you don’t need to really foam roll in your subsequent; as a substitute, focus in your again.
“Rolling up and down the middle of your back (thoracic spine) is helpful for relaxing tight muscles and moving stiff joints,” says Matoska. “Working on extending your mid back backwards over the foam roller at different levels that feel stiff is also extremely beneficial.”
And if issues sound a bit…crunchy throughout the course of? Not to fear. “It is very common to feel pops and cracks as you foam roll, which are signs of pressure relief from stiff joints,” says Matoska.
This info is for instructional functions solely and isn’t supposed as an alternative to medical prognosis or therapy. You mustn’t use this info to diagnose or deal with a well being drawback or situation. Always examine together with your physician earlier than altering your weight loss program, altering your sleep habits, taking dietary supplements, or beginning a brand new health routine.