Have you ever woken up with a sudden and un-expected pain in the neck? Does your neck severely hurt every time you try to turn your head? Then, you are probably suffering from stiff neck. At some point or the other all face the issue of having a stiff neck. Although it is one of the most uncomfortable and painful situations to be in, there are several ways to treat and prevent a stiff neck.
Efficient Ways to Prevent a Stiff Neck
Stiff necks are nothing but muscle strain in the neck. It occurs in the levator scapula muscle of the neck. Since this muscle has close proximity to the spine and is connected to many nerve centres, this muscle if pulled can be extremely painful. Listed below are some efficient ways to prevent a stiff neck.
1} Sleep on a better pillow
One of the major causes for stiff neck is poor sleeping posture and wrong types of pillow. When you sleep for long hours, the neck remains in the same position until you get up. Hence, proper pillow and sleeping posture is important. A good pillow provides good support to the neck and reduces the strain while you sleep. This is one of the best ways to prevent a stiff neck.
2} Reduce gadgets usage
Today in modern days, nearly everyone has a smart phone or tablet. Thousands of people spend hours together crunching over and viewing their smart gadgets. Be it while travelling, eating or even right before going to bed, these devices are constantly under use. Continuous neck strain while viewing these devices can be very harmful for the neck muscles. Cut down on gadgets usage and improve your lifestyle for a stress-free neck.
3} Avoid carrying heavy weights
Most people carry heavy bags or purses during their travel to work and home. Consistent pressure on the neck muscles due to heavy weight can cause muscle pull or strain in the neck. Re-consider carrying heavy baggage or try alternating your arms to carry the weight. Avoid carrying more than you can naturally manage.
4} Go easy on workouts
Many people suffer from stiff neck due to their rigorous workout regime. Intense workouts or long duration exercises can tire out the neck muscles and cause a stiff neck. Reducing the intensity of the workout, decreasing the duration, and alternating different forms of exercises can help prevent stiff neck.
5} Improve body posture
Body posture plays a very important role in maintaining healthy neck muscles. Poor body posture often causes aches and pains in the body. Avoid leaning back on pillows, hunching over, bending the neck while walking, and reading in a sleeping position. Walking and sitting in an erect position helps prevent stiff neck in the long run.
6} Do stretching exercises
Stretching exercises is one of the best tips to prevent a stiff neck. We often ignore the importance of warm-up and stretching exercises and fail to realize its positive impact on our neck muscles. Starting and ending the day with some simple warm up exercises and release the tension aggregated in the neck muscles. It can also ease an already present stiff neck.
7} Hot and cold treatments
Often we ignore the strain and pain in our neck muscles. The ignorance can further worsen the pain and cause stiff neck. It is advised to use hot and cold treatment as soon as you feel the pain emerging in your neck muscles. Apply a moist heat pad on the neck area for about 20 minutes. Repeat this procedure 3 times daily. You can also alternate with a cold ice pack to numb localised pain. Ice pack can be kept for a duration of 10 minutes and repeated every 2 hours. With alternating cold and hot treatments, you can receive great relief from neck pain and prevent a recurrence of stiff neck.
8} Massage therapies
Massage therapy is one of the best techniques to give quick relief to the neck muscles and prevent a stiff neck. You can massage your neck by using your finger tips and making them move in a circular motion around your neck. If unsure, you can contact a massage therapist for expert help. You can also resort to acupuncture for long term relief.
9} Pain medications
Although a temporary solution, pain medications that involve pills and topical creams can provide instant relief from neck pain and reduce the occurrence of stiff neck. Topical analgesic creams contain pain-relieving ingredients that soothe and relax the neck muscles. NSAIDS like asprin and ibuprofen are also effective pain killer pills that help provide immediate relief from a stiff neck.
10} Epsom salt water warm bath
Often, a hot water bath, helps release the tiredness and pain in the muscles. So if you have had a hectic day, add some Epsom salt to your warm water and take a hot bath. You will get rid of the pain even before you develop a stiff neck.
11} Nutrition supplements
Many of us don’t realise that a stiff neck can also be due to a nutritional deficiency. In such cases, magnesium supplements are advised. Magnesium is known to relax the muscles and relieve it from soreness. Taking magnesium supplements can help prevent stiff neck in the long run.
Despite all the above suggestions, if you are still developing a stiff neck, it is advised that you seek immediate medical attention. Stiff neck can be a symptom of serious diseases that involve meningitis and other bacterial infections. So if you have a consistent neck pain that is simply not leaving you, see a doctor immediately.