How to Prevent a Stiff Neck
Neck stiffness is a serious problem. The neck, which does such a fantastic and complicated job for the body, is also the site of a massive amount of discomfort and pain. But unlike other kinds of pain, neck pain isn’t always taken that seriously.
This shouldn’t be the case. The neck is an amazing part of the body and needs to be cared for. However, there are many dangers to the neck in today’s world. It’s important to maintain your neck health so that pain and stiffness doesn't affect your everyday functioning.
Causes of Stiff Neck
The causes of neck pain can be varied. Most of the time, a stiff neck is caused by acute musculoskeletal issues like muscle strain or incorrect sleeping posture. These will most often go away on their own or can be cured by making a few adjustments to your lifestyle.
If you’ve got a stiff neck, here’s what might be causing it.
The modern world seem made especially to wreak havoc on our posture. And anything that affects your posture is bad news for your neck.Causes of stiff neck
‘Tech neck’, the posture disorder that comes from excessive hunching and stooping to view screens, is becoming increasingly common. With billions of people around the world using smartphones, poor posture is on the rise.
One study found that hunching from looking at smartphones found that the weight of the head increased exponentially in relation to the degree at which it is held. The average human head weighs 10 to 12 pounds. But when the head is tilted forward by 15 degrees, the weight of the head increased to 27 pounds. At 60 degrees, it increased to 60 pounds, and so on.
The amount of stress on the neck and upper spine caused by this poor posture can seriously strain your neck muscles and tendons.
Try to hold your smartphone at eye level when you use it. However, if you have a hard time doing that, you can try using a neck brace that will keep you from bending at the neck.
We all know that stress can really mess you up. Whether we’re going through a traumatic time in our lives or are snowed under with work, people experience stress very deeply. Most of us tend to carry a lot of stress in our muscles. After all, stress can trigger our ‘fight or flight’ responses, so it makes sense that muscle tension would follow. Too much stress can cause your muscles to pull, stretch, spasm, muscles can be pulled stretched or begin to spasm. This can do a lot of damage to the neck.
Try mindfulness, breathing exercises and other techniques to help you deal with stress. If you’re consistently finding your muscles are knotted, consider using EMS therapy for a quick, effective and convenient reprieve.
Repetitive or Unusual Neck Motion
If you’ve ever sat in the front row of a cinema, you know what a pain in the neck it can be to hold your head in an odd position for long periods of time. If you’re constantly putting yourself in situations where you have to hold your neck at an unusual angle, or if you’re in situations where you’re constantly moving your neck, your muscles can get knotted and tense.
It helps to do regular stretches when your neck is in constant motion [LINK TO STRETCHING BLOG]. Take a moment out of your day to do some neck and shoulder rolls, trap stretches and others to ensure you’re keeping those muscles and ligaments loose and healthy.
When we carry a heavy load on our backs, we instinctively lean forward to redistribute the weight. This can force our necks into a position of forward carriage and can put incredible strain on our neck and upper back.
Empty out as much as you can from your backpack, shorten the straps and make sure the bag is flush against your body
Poor Sleeping Position
Sleeping is what we do for a good chunk of our lives, so if our necks aren’t in a good position during this time, a stiff neck will follow when ligaments and muscles fall out of alignment.
Sometimes, your average pillow just isn’t going to cut it. Some people need the extra support required for their necks. After all, without the proper support, our necks can curve into a position that can stretch out the neck’s ligaments and muscles.
Invest in a pillow that supports your neck when you sleep. For optimal sleeping position, place a pillow between your knees to achieve amazing spine alignment.
Bad Desk Ergonomics
Many of us sit in front of computers all day. Sitting actually puts a lot of strain on our muscles since it is such an unnatural act. If your desk is not arranged ergonomically, or if your desk items are arranged in a way that make you hunch forward, your neck will suffer.
There are loads of things you can do to make sure your desk area is optimise to help you attain a great posture, and thereby reducing the likelihood of neck stiffness. Check out these quick tips to rearrange your desk space to wave goodbye to that neck pain for good!
Here are the Expert Views on How to Prevent a Stiff Neck
1. Anthony Puopolo | Chief Medical Officer at Rex MD says,One of the number one causes of a stiff neck is office work. Being bent over a computer screen all day while sitting is a surefire way to cause neck stiffness and tension, and for many can be incredibly frustrating. Avoiding neck pain stiffness can be done in a number of ways. The first is to simply stretch. Regularly doing basic neck stretches in the morning, at night, and throughout the day can help reduce, and in some cases remove neck stiffness. Another way is to regularly take breaks from a position that is compromising to your neck. If you are an office worker, stand up and go for a walk every hour or so. Allow time for your neck to relieve itself of negative positioning. Lastly, get a better pillow. For many, sleeping can be a cause of neck stiffness, and pillows like a Tempurpedic can significantly help, or even remove stiffness.
2. Dr. Carrie Lam | MD at Dr. Lam Coaching says,
When it comes to reducing neck pain, there are ways to find relief without using any type of medication. However, before trying any treatment, it is best to consult with your physician or qualified healthcare practitioner first. This is especially critical if you are already suffering from an existing physical condition that can be worsened by any form of physical activity or treatment. It is important to rule out any anatomical abnormality and understand the risks before trying these maneuvers.
Those with adrenal fatigue are very sensitive to any changes in their body, so plenty of care must be taken before trying something new. That said, here are some practical ways to relieve stress-induced neck pain: Practice some seated neck stretches You can relieve tension in the neck by practicing some neck stretches even while you are seated. Simply place your right hand on top of your head and keep your left hand on your side. Then, proceed to pull your head gently to the right until your ear is almost touching your shoulder.
Hold this position for about 30 seconds and take some long breaths. Repeat this stretch again, this time on the opposite side. This simple exercise will help you reduce neck pain. Get enough sleep Getting enough sleep regularly is a great way to make sure that your body can cope with stressful situations effectively. A good night’s sleep will not only recharge your energy levels, it will also help reduce neck pain. Your sleeping position is important too and also using the proper pillow and mattress. A comfortable sleep position will not only help with reducing neck pain but also promote better sleep quality. Enjoy some leisure time activities Setting aside some leisure time for yourself allows your body to relax and naturally lower its stress levels. Relaxation is one of the best ways to help you with reducing neck pain.
A study conducted in The Netherlands found that engaging in leisure-time physical activity helps people who lead a sedentary lifestyle to reduce muscle injuries including back and neck pain. Consider trying acupuncture Acupuncture has long been a part of traditional Chinese medicine. It utilizes fine needles to stimulate parts of the body that may be suffering from tension and pain. There are several studies that have observed the effectiveness of acupuncture. This alternate treatment method is widely practiced successfully to relieve muscle tension and aches and includes reducing neck pain.
Homeopathic Remedies for Reducing Neck PainAn image of an arrangement of homeopathic remedies There are various homeopathic remedies that are known to be effective in reducing neck pain. It should be noted, however, that you should consult your physician before taking any of them for the first time. This is because your body may have an intolerance for some of these natural ingredients. ingesting any of these homeopathic ingredients may just add further stress to your body. If you are not intolerant or allergic to any of the ingredients, here are some homeopathic remedies for reducing neck pain: Bryony Bryonia is a plant whose roots are often used for medicinal purposes. It is typically used to treat acute inflammation in the body. A study published in the Open Chemistry Journal has found this plant may be effective enough to treat rheumatic disorders and help reduce neck pain because Bryonia is effective against muscular pain and inflammation.
GelsemiumGelsemium is a popular homeopathy medicine that may act as an effective remedy for reducing neck pain. It is often used to treat tenderness and soreness in muscles of the neck area, especially if the condition is accompanied by a persistent headache. Chelidonium MajusChelidonium is a medicinal plant that is used as a homeopathic remedy for reducing neck pain. When a person suffers from neck pain, it is often accompanied by a sensation of tenderness and heaviness. Chelidonium is reported to provide relief from these sensations. A study conducted in Poland observed that Chelidonium can work as an effective anti-inflammatory agent. Cimicifuga RacemosaCimicifuga racemosa or black snakeroot is a homeopathic remedy that is often associated with the treatment of muscle cramps and joint pains.
Black snakeroot can therefore be recommended for reducing neck pain and a stiff neck. A study conducted in India had also confirmed that cimicifuga racemosa has anti-inflammatory properties. Arnica Montana is a popular homeopathic remedy that is used to treat pain, following an injury. Back pain and stiffness can also be relieved as several studies have indicated that this natural product contains anti-inflammatory properties. Arnica, as it is popularly known, would benefit in reducing neck pain.KalmiaKalmia is a homeopathic remedy that is often used in reducing neck pain.
It is especially useful in providing relief when the neck feels very tender when touched and the pain gets worse with movement. Moreover, this type of neck pain, is also very uncomfortable when the arms are extended or stretched.CausticumCausticum or potassium hydrate is the homeopathic remedy of choice if a patient is experiencing neck pain and finds it very painful to turn the head. Additionally, a 2015 study observed that causticum is sometimes used for the treatment of muscle tremors and another study concluded that caustic possesses anti-inflammatory properties. This means causticum can be used as an effective remedy for reducing neck pain.
3. Derek Hall | Content strategist at Fitness volt says,To avoid a stiff neck, you should start by maintaining a good posture throughout your day. While working at the computer, or reading something on your phone, make sure your screen is positioned at 90-degree angles. Make sure to keep stretching a little in the opposite direction about every 20 minutes. While sleeping, avoid using too high or stiff a pillow. If you sleep on your side, keep your spine straight by using a pillow that is higher under your neck than your head. The causes of a stiff neck, generally include, sleeping with the neck at an awkward position, sports injury, slouching with a poor posture for prolonged periods, and experiencing stress or anxiety which can lead to tension in the neck. Taking medication such as ibuprofen or paracetamol may help to relieve a stiff neck. Doing stretching exercises and applying a heating pad or ice pack may help as well. You can also make sure to gently massage your neck and use a soft neck collar.
There are many ways you can prevent neck stiffness. Most cases of neck stiffness tend to go away within a few days of their first appearance or with minor changes to your lifestyle.
However, a stiff neck can also be caused by bacterial infections, cancer and other diseases. If your stiff neck is accompanied by other symptoms, including fever, nausea, numbness in the limbs, shortness of breath, severe headaches, vomiting, rashes or other serious symptoms, see your GP.