6 Easiest Ways to Cure a Stiff Neck
While I was in Sri Lanka I woke up with a stiff neck so I did a bunch of research on how to get rid of it. This post summaries my research down to what I have found to be the 6 easiest ways to cure a stiff neck.
A sore or stiff neck is not uncommon for travelers seeing as we seem to sleep in awkward positions more often than the normal crowd (like when doing overnight bus journeys or all those hour spent on planes or even the airport floor.)
In fact, even when not traveling I spend a lot of time in front of the computer which is not that great for posture and bad posture is the main culprit for a stiff neck, i.e., having your head leaning forward puts strain on the neck. Other forms of bad posture are usually in the way of bad sleeping positions.
Another cause for a stiff neck is due to sudden jerking force that may happen in a accident or during contact sports. Even a very forceful sneeze may result in a stiff neck.
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Preventing a Stiff Neck
As with any ailment, or even any problem in life, the best cure is prevention. It means that this is actually the easiest of the easy ways to cure a stiff neck, because you won’t get one in the first place 🙂 .
Since the common cause for a stiff neck is improper posture it makes sense to avoid having your neck bent forward for extended periods of time. Unfortunately bending you head may be an integral part of your job, especially for those of us that sit in front of a computer for long periods of time and even for those that spend a lot of time on their smart phones.
To prevent getting a sore neck while at work you can do some exercises periodically throughout the day, preferably every hour. Do each exercise ten times unless otherwise stated, and if possible, walk around while you do them.
- Touch your right shoulder with your right ear and then do the same on your left side. Don’t raise your shoulder to do this.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together.
- Backwards shoulder rolls.
- Place your hand on the back of your head and push against them with your head for 20 seconds. Your hands create the resistance.
To prevent getting a sore neck while you sleep you just need to ensure you sleep in a good position.
- Never sleep on your stomach.
- Ensure your pillow provides proper support.
- Don’t use too many pillows.
One last thing you should be aware of is that stress can cause a stiff neck, so just slow down and relax in general.
Six Easiest Ways to Cure a Stiff Neck
Here are a number of ways to fix a stiff neck. Some of them will work well together and the best thing to do would be to combine them and also to repeat them throughout the day. Some options have been left out due to the impracticality to the traveler such as an Epsom salt bath or cold packs, hence the title “easiest” ways to cure a stiff neck.
Stiff Neck Cure #1: Acupressure.
There is an acupressure point used specifically for a stiff neck. It is called Luo Zhen and it works very well.
To find it hold your hand palm facing down. Just below the knuckles between the pointer and middle finger there is a little depression. This is the Luo Zhen acupressure point.
Which ever side of your neck hurts, massage the Luo Zhen point on the opposite hand (so if your neck hurts on the left side massage your right hand) by pressing into it with your finger tip and then making tiny circles. Put enough pressure so you feel a slight tenderness.
At the same time rotating your head side to side. After a little time you should feel an improvement.
Stiff Neck Cure #2: Massage and Movement.
Find the sore spot in your neck and push into it with firm pressure using your fingers or a tennis ball. It should hurt with a pain that you can tolerate.
Whilst applying the pressure try to touch your armpit with your chin and then bring it back to a neutral position. When doing this do it so that you are turning your head in the direction opposite to where the stiffness is, i.e., if your neck hurts on the right side then put your chin toward your left armpit. Do this twenty times in a row.
When you have finished the twenty do a big reach for the sky to stretch your neck and upper back.
Stiff Neck Cure #3: Traction.
For this stiff neck cure it is best to have a friend to help you, although a kind stranger will also work.
Lie flat on your back.
Get your friend to sit where your head is with a folded hand towel and position it under the rear of your skull, where it bumps up from your neck (the occiput).
Have your friend gently pull the towel as if lengthening your head away from your body. Hold the position for three to five minutes.
Stiff Neck Cure #4: Apply Heat.
A heat pack might not be readily available for the traveler but soaking a towel in hot water and wrapping it around your neck will be easy enough to do in most places.
Another option is you get out the tiger balm or deep heat cream.
Stiff Neck Cure #5: Skin Scraping.
Put a few drops of massage oil where the pain is and gently scrape the skin with a spoon or anything that gives the same effect.
If your thinking… “What traveler carries around massage oil?” then you obviously haven’t read my post on Coconut Oil.
Stiff Neck Cure #6: Pharmaceuticals.
If all the above doesn’t work then I guess you can turn to drugs, i.e., over-the-counter pain relievers or muscle relaxers.
Want to learn more cures for common travel ailments? Check out Wilderness and Travel Medicine by Sam Fury.
Do you know of any other easy ways to cure a stiff neck? Let us know them (or anything else you want to say) in the comments 😀 .