These natural home remedies for stiff neck should be appealing to those people who are putting up with … well … a real pain in the neck! A stiff neck is one of the most common muscle aches experienced by both children and adults alike. They can be caused by any number of factors including things like sleeping with your neck kinked, poor posture, sports-related injuries, or even housework.
The intensity of a stiff neck is usually dependent on the person and what has caused the pain. For some, the pain is only mild and short-term while others try to cope with extreme soreness, tightness and lack of movement. In some cases, it may even cause a headache, shoulder pain or pain that extends into your arm.
If you wake up with a stiff neck the good news is that it does not usually indicate a serious medical problem. However, if not attended to either correctly or in time, the condition can worsen and become quite distressing. I know this from personal experience, having once tried to stretch the affected area, which only leads to severe spasms and pain from which I could not find relief.
So it’s important when considering home remedies for a stiff neck, that you employ the most tried-and-true solutions so that you can resume normal living as soon as possible.
With this in mind, here are some of the best things that you can do for yourself when a stiff neck begins to torment you:
Effective Home Remedies for Stiff Neck
1. Just Relax:
The first thing to do is to relax the affected area. You want to reduce the inflammation and induce the muscle tissue to relax and stop any spasms. During the first 72 hours, you should apply an ice pack or cold compress several times each day. Try not to stretch or exercise the neck muscles in any way as this may only worsen the condition.
Hold the cold compress against the affected area for about 10 to 15 minutes. If you don’t have an ice pack or cold compress a bag of frozen peas will do just fine.
If you haven’t experienced any relief after 48 hours of using the cold compress then you might like to try some heat therapy instead. Applying heat increases the blood flow to the area which in turn will reduce stiffness. You can make yourself a hot compress using either a weak bag heated in the microwave or a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel.
Apply any of these to the affected area for at least 10 minutes. If it’s convenient, you can complement this by standing under a hot shower for about five minutes. Don’t move your neck or kink it forward while you are doing this. Stand as tall and straight as possible.
2. Give Yourself a Massage:
The best thing to massage the affected area are some natural muscle relaxers. These include some essential oils such as peppermint oil or lemongrass essential oil.
Peppermint essential oil is an excellent natural painkiller and is not only good for neck pain but can also melt away a tension headache. Simply delude the peppermint oil in another oil like coconut oil or unscented lotion and apply topically to the painful area.
Lemongrass essential oil helps to relieve muscle spasms and backaches by improving blood circulation. Other essential oils in this category include Cyprus oil and frankincense essential oil.
If you have access to this one, cannabis oil is a wonderful natural muscle relaxer. It also relieves chronic pain and inflammation and for this reason, is sometimes used to treat fibromyalgia. If you’re able to purchase cannabis oil make sure that you do so through a reputable company.
3. Enjoy a Hot Bath:
Take a hot bath containing Epsom salt and magnesium. Magnesium is one of the primary minerals used to relieve muscle pain. Those engaged in high-energy sports use it all the time, both before and after the action. Epsom salt contains magnesium which will be absorbed through your skin while the warm water in the bathtub will help soothe and relax you all over. Combine this with a good magnesium supplement and notice the difference.
4. Keep it Moving:
Keep the neck gently moving. Even though you wish to avoid stretching and pulling, you should still keep your neck gently moving throughout the day. So try to resist taking long television breaks on the couch, or sitting over a desk, or anything else that means your neck is not getting much movement.
Here are a few gentle exercises which you can do throughout the day.
Move your head forward and backwards as if you are nodding, only exaggerate the movement but do it slowly – moving your head towards your chest and then back behind you and toward the ceiling.
Another complementary exercise is to tilt your head sideways and toward your right shoulder, returning it to an upright position and then doing the same toward your left shoulder.
A third exercise is to slowly turn your head and looked to the right, then look back to the left.
While you’re not doing these exercises, try to sit up straight and keep your head and neck in a relaxed position.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar:
Apple cider vinegar is a great all-rounder. It contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that cannot only soothe a sore neck but prevent muscle strain as well. Soak a paper napkin in raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and place it on the back of your neck, allowing it to sit there for a few hours so that it soaks into your tissue. You can also include it along with the Epsom salt in your warm bath water, but you’ll need about 2 cups to do the trick.
6. Cayenne Pepper and Olive Oil:
Cayenne pepper is another natural substance which has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. Mix 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper with 2 tablespoons of warm olive oil and apply this mixture to the affected area. Or if you want to make up a mixture that can be used for multiple applications, combine 1/4 cup of olive oil with 1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper.
After applying to the affected area, cover it with a pad and bandages and leave it there for a few hours. If you don’t mind spicy food you can also include some cayenne pepper in your cooking for even better results.
7. Enjoy some Turmeric:
Turmeric has often been called “the wonder spice” because it has so many beneficial health properties. For a stiff neck, however, you should take it internally and one of the best ways to do this is to mix 1 teaspoon in a cup of warm milk and add some honey for taste. This is not only a delicious sweet drink but will also help you sleep at night as well.
8. Visit your Chiropractor or Massage Therapist:
A good chiropractor can find the source of your neck pain very quickly and if necessary provide targeted adjustments to your spine. They can also give you helpful advice on posture exercises which you can do at home. Studies have shown that for every inch of your head sticks out from its true centre of gravity, your neck it bears an extra 10 pounds of stress. Realigning your neck back to its correct centre of gravity can work wonders.
9. Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet:
High levels of inflammation make muscles more susceptible to pain and injury — not to mention inflammation weakens your bones and joints while also reducing the range of motion and your ability to naturally heal injuries. If your overall range of motion, strength and flexibility are compromised, you face a higher risk of neck problems. Inflammation can also make it harder to recover from injuries.
You can help control inflammation and speed up your ability to heal by eating a nutrient-dense diet filled with anti-inflammatory foods. This means eating less “empty calories” like added sugar, processed meats, chemically sprayed crops, refined grain products, alcohol and packaged snacks. An anti-inflammatory diet includes healing foods, such as green leafy veggies; healthy fats, including extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil; sources of protein like cage-free eggs, grass-fed meat and wild-caught fish; and probiotic foods and fermented foods (such as cultured veggies and yoghurt).
Tips for Stiff Neck Relief:
Try the skin-scraping technique to get rid of a stiff neck. Lubricate the sore area with a little massage oil and then gently scrape the skin with the edge of a spoon. Start from the top of your neck coming all the way down to the top of your shoulders. This Chinese remedy is a type of massage to get the blood flow to the aching area. As it is difficult to do on your own, you may take a friend’s help. Better still, get it done by an acupuncturist.
Get 7 to 8 hours of sound sleep every night. Getting enough rest will help your body heal quickly.
Do not sleep on your stomach. Try to sleep on your side or back.
Try sleeping without a pillow for a few nights.
Make sure your mattress is firm enough to provide support for your spine and neck.
Avoid driving, as it may aggravate the problem.
Avoid putting any strain on the neck muscles, as it will increase the pain and delay the healing process.
Use relaxation techniques to combat emotional stress that can trigger muscle tension.
Practice good posture throughout the day when sitting or standing.
Being overweight puts a strain on all of the body’s muscles, so try to lose excess weight.
Take frequent breaks while at work to reduce stress on your neck.
Avoid crimping your phone between your neck and shoulder.
Avoid doing heavy physical exercises for a week as it may worsen the pain.