Have you ever woken up with a stiff neck or pain in your neck when you try to move your head? Or tweaked your neck from turning too fast or exercising? Everyone has but most of the time it goes away after a few minutes and we forget about it. It is often the result of sleeping in the wrong position or in a place we are not used to sleeping.
Sometimes the pain does not go away and can last from days to weeks on end. This is when people start to get worried and frustrated, they just really want the pain to go away. The most common things people tell me they try are heat, stretching and massage. Good news! These things can help if done correctly!
For the first few days after neck pain starts, ice should be used to help bring down the inflammation in 10-15 minute increments. After the first few days, you can switch to heat to help the muscles relax more. Using heat in the first few days will just increase inflammation and limit your mobility while also increasing your pain.
You can start doing light stretching but only going to right before you would feel any pain. If you stretch until it hurts, then the muscles will start to spasm and give the opposite reaction to what we want. You should also make sure that you are practicing correct posture, not just while stretching but throughout as much of the day as you can. Looking down at our phones or hunching forward while we work on computers will put a lot of stress on your neck and shoulders which can cause more tightness. Also try not to stay in the same position for too long, movement is always best so your body doesn’t lock up.
Getting a massage is usually okay, as long as you go to a massage therapist that is knowledgeable about injuries or who can talk to your doctor about your case beforehand. You should wait a few days after the pain starts to get a massage so you can do it once the inflammation has gone down a little bit. Make sure the massage therapist does a light massage so the muscles don’t try to spasm again afterwards.
Always make sure you drink lots of water to help hydrate your muscles! Most people don’t realize how much staying hydrated helps you feel better. I always recommend people drink more water after getting any work done on your body because your body is working harder to heal so needs to hydration!
Lastly, don’t ever wear a neck brace or collar without a doctor telling you to do so. Even if it makes the neck feel better while wearing it, it may not be the right option for you.
As always, we at Blonsky Family Chiropractic want to make sure we are always giving advice to get you on the road to recovery as fast as possible. Any further questions you may have, don’t hesitate to call, email/text message us at any time!