Neck pain is hands down one of the most frustrating things on this planet. It is not only uncomfortable, but has you moving like a robot for days at a time.
And the worst part about it? It seems to happen over nothing at all. In fact, something as simple sleeping wrong can be enough t send your neck in to spasm.
Although fortunately for us there are some easy fixes!
1. Apply Cold Therapy
Cold therapy is fast becoming one of the most effective musculoskeletal treatments on the planet. It has been shown to not only help treat acute and traumatic muscle injuries, but may also promote the physical healing of damaged muscle tissue.
And even more importantly, it has also been shown to help reduce muscle tension and much of its associated pain .
With this in mind, simply applying a bag of ice to the sore area of your neck after waking for a couple of minutes will cause a huge improvement in your movement capabilities, while also relieving you from a lot of the associated pain.
2. Start Stretching
Often our neck becomes sore after sleeping wrong because the muscles on one side of the neck become short and stiff. This might be because they were stuck in abnormal position for the duration of the night, or were possible compressed in a fairly uncomfortable way.
As a result, a very simple way to alleviate this pain and discomfort is to stretch out those muscles of the neck that have become short and tight .
Some of the best stretches for the neck that I actually use on a very regular basis include the following:
- Roll both of your shoulders up, back, and then down for 10 repetitions in a slow and controlled manner.
- With your arms extended out by your sides, squeeze your shoulder blades down and together as hard as you can for 60 seconds.
- Bring your ear to your shoulder while you simultaneously tucking your chin towards your chest. Hold for 60 seconds per side.
See Dr. Oz's Segment on the Neck Hammock...
The Neck Hammock is an affordable, at-home cervical traction device that can reduce neck pain without a visit to the chiropractor.
3. Try Some Self Massage
In a similar vein of thought to the stretching, another great option revolves around self-massage. As its name suggests, self-massage is simply a form of muscular massage that you perform on yourself, rather than having someone else do it for you.
It has been shown to be extremely effective at relieving muscle tension and muscle pain, while also improving the available range of motion you have at specific joints – making it absolutely perfect for your neck pain .
The easiest way to apply this method of treatment is to massage around your own neck until you find a piece of muscle tissue that feels both firm and painful. Proceed to massage that spot gently until it ‘releases’ (and the pain reduces) – then repeat with any other sore spots that you find.
While most people think of meditation as a completely psychological mode of treatment, there is actually a growing body of evidence to suggest that it can also have an impact on your muscular system as well .
You see, after sleeping funny, the muscles of your neck can become stiff – however this may also be due to an increase in neural tone, rather than strictly due to physical changes in the muscle itself.
Taking this into consideration, meditation has been shown to downregulate the nervous system, which can cause hyperactive muscle tissue to relax and ease off. This makes it a great option for neck pain, which should be used in conjunction with both stretching and massage.
5. Take Some Deep Breaths
Diaphragmatic breathing really describes the act of breathing deeply into your stomach, using your diaphragm to produce the breaths rather than the muscles of your ribcage. Interestingly, and much like meditation, this type of breathing has also been shown to reduce neural tone in the muscular system .
As a result, it can also cause the muscles of the neck to relax and lengthen, which can have a huge impact on your neck pain.
So, if meditation isn’t really your thing, taking 20-30 deep breaths into your diaphragm will offer a really simple way to help ease of your neck pain quickly and effectively.
6. Jump into Some Yoga Poses
Yoga is a great form of exercise that combines muscle stretching, muscle strengthen, and mediation, all into one single activity. Moreover, the gentle nature of its movements has the capacity to improve muscle tone and further reduce the severity of tight muscle tissue.
With all of this in mind, yoga offers the perfect mode of exercise to remedy your stiff neck . Some of my favourite poses for this type of treatment include the following:
- Standing forward bend pose
- Cat cow pose
- Thread the needle pose
- Extended puppy pose
Simply giving each of these poses a go for 60 seconds immediately after waking up with a sore and stiff neck should be enough to cause a huge difference.
7. Apply a Hot Pack
While cold therapy is indeed effective, some people don’t find it to be all that useful (and I should note, some people also don’t like the cold…). As such, health therapy is another great alternative to reduce muscle tension.
You see, applying heat to a tight muscle can improve blood flow to that muscle, causing it to ease off and become ‘looser’ . This can in turn reduce pain and restore function to that muscle tissue.
Simply applying a heat pack or hot water bottle onto the sorest aspect of your neck for 1-2 minutes can be enough to cause it to slacken and reduce pain – after which I strongly encourage some gentle stretching to finish it off.
Neck pain is a serious pain in the behind. Not only is it seriously uncomfortable, but it can also severely limit your movement, alter your functional capacity, and inhibit your ability to perform normal tasks of daily living.
So, if you find yourself waking up with a sore neck, I strongly recommend you give some of these great treatments a go and find out which ones work best for you.
I can assure you that you will thank me for it later!
- Dehghan, MOrteza, and Farinaz FarahbOD. "The efficacy of thermotherapy and cryotherapy on pain relief in patients with acute low back pain, a clinical trial study." Journal of clinical and diagnostic research: JCDR 8.9 (2014): LC01.
- Durall, Christopher J. "Therapeutic exercise for athletes with nonspecific neck pain: a current concepts review." Sports health 4.4 (2012): 293-301.
- Sherman, Karen J., et al. "Randomized trial of therapeutic massage for chronic neck pain." The Clinical journal of pain 25.3 (2009): 233.
- Rosenzweig, Steven, et al. "Mindfulness-based stress reduction for chronic pain conditions: variation in treatment outcomes and role of home meditation practice." Journal of psychosomatic research 68.1 (2010): 29-36.
- Bruflat, Angela K., et al. "Stress management as an adjunct to physical therapy for chronic neck pain." Physical therapy 92.10 (2012): 1348-1359.
- Cramer, Holger, et al. "Randomized-controlled trial comparing yoga and home-based exercise for chronic neck pain." The Clinical journal of pain 29.3 (2013): 216-223.
- Philadelphia Panel Members, et al. "Philadelphia Panel evidence-based clinical practice guidelines on selected rehabilitation interventions for neck pain." Physical Therapy 81.10 (2001): 1701-1717.