It can be very uncomfortable to develop a stiff neck. This condition is widespread, and it can be the result of spending hours and hours hunched down in front of a screen. Many of us spend long periods sitting in uncomfortable positions at work or even when we get home.
Research has shown that at any given time, nearly 20 percent of people will report having suffered from neck pain within the past three months. In most cases, a stiff neck develops over time rather than as an acute injury.
Sleeping in a wrong position is also bad for your neck. You will probably wake up with a stiff neck if you sleep on a poorly-made pillow or in an inadequate position. You can also develop a stiff neck if you spend long periods driving or staring at your phone.
Your muscles can weaken over time as a result of these poor postures. Weak muscles eventually lead to a stiff neck and neck pain. Over time, this weakness can result in displaced neck joints, pulled muscles, and nerve injury.
But the good news is that you can do many things at home to relieve a stiff neck. It is essential to treat a stiff neck since it can harm your quality of life. People with chronic neck pain can find it challenging to carry out their regular everyday routine.
Home remedy 1. Learn some simple stretching exercises
Stretching your neck can reduce pain, relieve stress, improve posture, and increase flexibility. It can also increase your circulation and improve tissue oxygenation, and reduce your risk of strained muscles.
Slowly move your head up and down, left and right, and in small circles. Roll your shoulders backward and forwards several times. These movements can help stretch out your muscles and provide some pain relief quickly. They can help ease pulled muscles and relieve some tension from your tissues.
However, you shouldn’t force yourself to carry out these exercises if you are experiencing severe pain. If this happens, immediately stop and give your neck some time to rest. Call your doctor if the pain doesn’t go away. You should also avoid sudden neck movements; instead, perform these exercises slowly and carefully.
Home remedy 2. Apply heat and ice to the affected area
Heat and cold therapy have been widely used for many years to treat muscle injuries.
Ice can help reduce swelling and inflammation, and heat can help your muscles relax and soothe tissues.
You can use first aid gel packs, heating pads, towels soaked with warm and cold water, and even packs of frozen peas.
Alternate between applying heat and cold to the affected area for up to 10 minutes each, and do this 2-3 times each day. Don’t apply ice directly to your skin, since it can cause frostbite. You can also take a warm shower to apply heat to your stiff neck.
Skip the warm compresses if you are feeling intense neck pain. Applying heat to an area that is too inflamed can worsen pain and swelling. In these cases, use cold therapy exclusively for a couple of days and try heat therapy once the pain gets better.
Home remedy 3. Use turmeric
Turmeric is a popular Indian spice with an intense yellow color that comes from the ground-up root of the turmeric plant. Its yellow color comes from curcumin, a compound that has powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
Curcumin can reduce inflammation through several mechanisms. It decreases the release of histamine, which is a pro-inflammatory substance. Curcumin can also stimulate your adrenal glands so that they release anti-inflammatory components. Research has shown that taking a turmeric supplement helps reduce muscle inflammation, and it could improve muscle repair.
Curcumin has even shown promising results in the treatment of tendonitis. If you don’t want to take a supplement, you can make a paste with turmeric and apply it directly to the affected area twice a day. You could also simply add turmeric to your food for a more natural route. However, it can be challenging to measure how much turmeric you are consuming this way.
Home remedy 4. Eat pineapple
Did you know that good old pineapple has anti-inflammatory properties? It does! Pineapple contains bromelain, which is an enzyme that can reduce inflammation and swelling. It is so powerful that it can help relieve osteoarthritis, surgical trauma, and improve wound healing, amongst many other conditions.
Pineapple also contains vitamins and minerals that have antioxidant properties, which can also reduce inflammation and tissue damage. The pain-relieving properties of pineapple are comparable to over-the-counter pain medications such as diclofenac.
If your muscles are feeling sore from a stiff neck, try adding some pineapple to your diet. You can have it on its own, or mix it up in a smoothie or a salad.
Home remedy 5. Improve your sleeping position
The position in which you sleep can improve or worsen your stiff neck. For example, sleeping on your stomach can aggravate neck pain, since you need to turn your head to the side to sleep in this position.
The best sleeping positions to prevent or relieve a stiff neck are sleeping on your back or your side. If you prefer to sleep on your back, use a rounded pillow that can provide support for your neck. You can add a flat pillow to support your head.
You can use pillows made of feathers or memory foam. These pillows can easily adapt to the shape of your neck so that you will be more comfortable during the night. Certain pillows are designed specifically to support the natural shape of your neck.
Avoid using pillows that too high or stiff, since they can keep your neck in an unnatural, flexed position throughout the night. If you sleep on your side, choose a pillow that lifts your neck higher than your head to maintain proper positioning.
Having a stiff neck in the morning isn’t just caused by your sleeping position. Research has shown that sleeping problems and insomnia can also increase musculoskeletal pain. Experts believe that this happens because sleep is necessary for muscle relaxation and healing.
So, if you want to relieve your stiff neck, you need to start by finding a good sleeping position. You also need to follow sleep hygiene habits, such as establishing a relaxing routine before you got to bed and avoiding screens before sleeping.
Home remedy 6. Be aware of your posture
Many of us have trouble standing up straight and maintaining good posture throughout the day. It can be easy to slouch while we wait in line for lunch, or while we sit in front of our computers. But bad posture can be awful for your neck and spine.
If you need to sit in front of a computer at work, make sure that the screen is placed at eye level, and keep the keyboard at the same level as your elbows. Avoid slouching forward; instead, find a comfortable chair that allows you to sit back with your back straight. Take short breaks every hour or so.
Driving in a lousy position can also lead to a stiff neck. If you need to drive for long periods, position your seat so that you don’t have to strain to look above the wheel. Make sure that you can comfortably reach the wheel and keep your head on the headrest.
Always looking down at your phone can also strain your neck. Try to limit the amount of time that you spend using your phone. When you do use it, try using a phone stand that makes it easier to keep your phone at eye level.
Home remedy 7. Give yourself a massage (or ask someone to help you!)
A massage can improve blood circulation to a specific area, increasing the amount of oxygen and nutrients that reach the said spot. These effects can help reduce inflammation and speed up tissue recovery.
Research has shown that massage therapy can improve pain and even anxiety, which is another crucial cause of neck pain. Try massaging your neck or ask someone else to do it. You can also visit a chiropractor for a neck and back massage.
Home remedy 8. Learn how to manage stress
Stress is a relatively normal part of our lives. But unchecked stress and anxiety can have many harmful effects on our body.
Anxiety can cause your muscles to become tense. This is a normal response since your body believes that it needs to prepare for danger. But if your muscles maintain that tension for an extended period, you could experience a stiff neck.
Anxiety-related neck pain can be moderate or severe. It can also be accompanied by symptoms such as headaches, sore shoulders or back, and an urge to “crack” your neck.
We can all benefit from learning how to manage stress and anxiety, and this is especially true for people who suffer from neck pain. There are many techniques that can help you relieve stress, and everyone has different ways of dealing with these feelings.
Some of the easiest and most effective ways to manage stress include:
- Regular exercise
- Implementing time-management techniques
- Maintaining a regular schedule
- Getting enough sleep each night
- Avoiding excessive alcohol and caffeine intake
- Spending time on a hobby you enjoy
Home remedy 9. Consume more olive oil
The benefits of olive oil are relatively well known. Most people are aware of the fact that this ancient oil is packed with antioxidants and healthy fats. But what most ignore is that it is also a powerful anti-inflammatory.
The antioxidants in olive oil, especially one called oleocanthal, work similarly to many anti-inflammatory medications. Studies have shown that 50 ml of olive oil effect comparable to 10% of an adult dose of ibuprofen. Olive oil also contains oleic acid, which can inhibit inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein.
Although olive oil won’t be able to provide full relief for your stiff neck, adding some extra-virgin olive to your meals or salad dressings can help you reap its anti-inflammatory properties – along with its numerous other health benefits.
What are the signs that I should seek medical help for my stiff neck?
It is always important to remember that you need to seek medical attention if your stiff neck doesn’t improve after a few days. Certain conditions can cause a stiff neck and require medical treatment, such as osteoarthritis, a herniated disk, or a pinched nerve. In rare cases, a stiff neck can even be a sign of a severe infection called meningitis.
Please reach out to your doctor if you experience:
- Severe neck pain that interferes with your usual routine.
- Neck pain or stiffness that is accompanied by fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, or headaches.
- Weakness in your arms or legs.
- Neck pain that starts after a traumatic injury, fall, or traffic accident.
If you are still suffering from a stiff neck after trying these home remedies, please don’t hesitate to go to the doctor. If your stiff neck is caused by a medical condition, getting an early diagnosis and adequate treatment are vital to ensure a smooth recovery.
Final thoughts on How to Relieve A Stiff Neck
Having a stiff, sore neck can be an incredibly uncomfortable experience. It can disrupt your sleep and interfere with your ability to exercise or carry out your usual activities. Bad posture and a bad sleeping position are two of the most common causes of a stiff neck.
People tend to spend long periods of time slouching over laptops, phones, or other devices. It is also common to adopt a poor posture if you have to spend long hours hunched over a desk. More often than not, we need to become aware of our bad posture before we can correct it.
Thankfully, there are many home remedies that can help relieve neck pain and stiffness. The most important thing is always to improve your posture and sleeping positions so that your spine and neck muscles are properly aligned.
Andrea, M.D is from Valencia, Venezuela. She is passionate about sexual health and education, and public health and global health. Additionally, she enjoys researching and learning about beauty, skincare, and cosmetic innovations. She has also volunteered in several NGOs in Venezuela. In her free time, Andrea enjoys reading, drinking copious amounts of coffee, making desserts for her family, going to the beach, and spending time with her dog, Dorito.