If you’ve ever had a stiff neck, you literally understand the term “pain in the neck.” It is extremely uncomfortable to deal with and can negatively impede your movements. To treat this exasperating condition, we’re here to recommend five neck stretches you should do every day to relieve stiffness.
To learn the most effective course of action for a stiff neck, Eat this, not that! reached out to Mike Bohl, MD, MPH, ALM, Director of Medical Content and Education at Ro and a member of our Medical Expert Council, who explains, “Having a stiff neck can be very frustrating due to the pain and limited range of motion you experience. ‘she provokes.” Not only is it painful, but it can also be dangerous to drive and limit your ability to perform daily tasks.
Keep reading to learn all about the causes of a stiff neck and how you can relieve discomfort with five neck stretches.
What causes a stiff neck?
Of course, there are many triggers that can cause neck stiffness. According to the Cleveland Clinic, it’s usually the result of clumsy sleeping or just muscle tension in that part of your body. This may be due to sitting and slouching for long periods of time while working on a laptop or texting. Dr Bohl adds: “It can also happen as a result of muscle overuse (like working out a lot or doing a repetitive motion multiple times) or injury (like getting whiplash in a car accident. ).”
In rare cases, a stiff neck can mean something more serious. Dr. Bohl cautions: “Less commonly, a stiff neck can be due to a spinal problem, such as arthritis in the cervical spine. A stiff neck can also be a symptom of meningitis.”
If your discomfort doesn’t go away in a reasonable amount of time, or if you’re also experiencing a headache, fever, or nausea, be sure to see your doctor as soon as possible to rule out the possibility of anything that needs prompt attention. But if your pain and discomfort is common, Dr. Bohl tells us, “There are many types of stretches you can try, but in this case, the simplest stretches are often the best.” Read on to find out how to get relief.
Here are the best neck stretches to do every day to relieve stiffness:
When it comes to stretching your neck muscles, you need to move your head in different directions as far as you reasonably can. Then stay in that position for several seconds if you can, being aware of the pain.
“If a position is too painful, don’t force it. When a stiff neck is caused by muscle strain (which is the most common cause), it usually subsides within a few days and you can try it again a painful stretch,” emphasizes Dr. Bohl.
The following stretches are helpful in relieving a stiff neck. Keep them handy to be prepared for any neck discomfort the next time it arises.
Neck extension: For neck extension, tilt your head as far as you can, toward the sky. Maintain this position.
Neck flexion: Tilt your head fully forward to perform neck flexion. Your chin should reach your chest, where you will hold the position.
Lateral flexion of the neck: Lateral neck flexion begins with your gaze forward and your head tilted to the side. Move so that your right ear is close to your right shoulder. Hold this position, then repeat the bend on the opposite side.
Neck rotation: Begin the neck rotation by turning your head all the way to the right, then hold it there. Repeat the rotation on the opposite side.
Stretching the levator scapulae: Rotate your head to the right at an angle of about 45 degrees. Look towards your right armpit and hold the position. Repeat the movement on the opposite side.
Alexa is the associate editor of Eat This, Not That!’s Mind + Body, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling stories about fitness, wellness and self-care to readers. Learn more about Alexa
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