Everybody has those mornings when they go to move and think “Oh no, not my neck”. But a stiff neck can occur at anytime, not just in the morning. You can also experience a stiff neck when sitting using a computer keyboard for too long and even anxiety and stress can cause tension in your neck muscles. The stiffness of the neck is due to muscle strain or sprain and is very uncomfortable. Dealing with the frustration of not being able to turn your neck from side to side, and the limitations of your daily activities, due to the irritation and pain that it causes. A stiff neck can also trigger headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain, and arm pain. Along with the inconvenience of having to move your entire body from side to side when having to look sideways.

An acute stiff neck usually lasts between a couple of days to a week. Which can seem like forever when dealing with the discomfort and pain. So when encountering a stiff neck, your initial thoughts are:  “What can I do to alleviate the pain?” Well, you’re in luck because there are many steps you can take to jump start the healing process. One of the first things you can do is take an Ibuprofen to help alleviate the inflammation and pain. Or you can use ice or ice packs to the neck area, if you did not want to use medication. The ice packs help calm down the inflammation and should be applied in twenty minute intervals during the initial 24 hours. After the first 24 hours, you can do the same with heat. Another step you can take is massage. Massage helps bring blood flow to the area, which helps relieve tension and helps it heal quicker.

If you are waking up with a stiff neck, its most likely due to your pillow, possibly not having the right support, which could be stressful for our neck muscles, and/or awkward sleeping positions. Even not having a stiff enough mattress, can lead to stiff muscles. A way to help prevent a stiff neck is having the right pillow. A memory foam pillow, a feather pillow, or even a cervical neck pillow for when sitting for a long time or even travel.

If you are experiencing a stiff neck when sitting, or on the computer, or other daily tasks, it is most likely due to your posture and staying in an awkward or uncomfortable position for too long. A leading step for finding relief when having a stiff neck is doing neck exercises. The main two exercises are neck strengthening exercises and neck stretching exercises. Neck strengthening exercises will help improve and maintain posture, which will help prevent stiff necks. While neck stretching exercises can help widen and guard the range of motion and relieve stiffness.

Having a stiff neck is rough, but by taking the time out of the day to do a few short exercises, being aware of your posture, and even purchasing a great pillow are major steps in finding relief and help preventing a stiff neck that can put a wrench in your day.