Stiff neck is one of the most common musculoskeletal complaints among adults, especially those who are working for long hours. People with stiff neck, also known as neck pain, experience soreness and difficulty moving the neck from side to side. The pain or discomfort may be accompanied by headache, shoulder pain, or arm pain.
Stiff neck is caused by straining of the neck muscles. One of the muscles of the neck that is commonly strained is the levator scapulae muscle. It can be found on the side and back areas of the neck.
Long hours at work, stress, anxiety, and sports injuries can lead to stiff neck. Some poor habits can also aggravate stiff neck. Here is a short list of poor practices that are known to worsen stiff neck:
Text neck, or tech neck, is a muscle injury that is due to the excessive use of smartphones and tablet. Text neck is the cumulative results of long periods of looking down on our phones and devices. As we look down and bend our neck, our neck muscles become strained and are forced to flex forward. When you have text neck, your nerves, joints, ligaments, and muscles receive all the weight. The pressure on your spine is also increased. Having poor posture and text neck at the same time may not only worsen stiff neck but can also cause breathing and heart complications.
Like text neck, poor posture such as slouching, putting your head forward, and slanting your neck forward can increase the pressure on your spine. For every inch that your head is held forward, the weight that is felt by your cervical spine increases by 10 pounds. Poor posture can also cause stretching of your spinal cord and spinal roots, as your cervical spine tends to compensate for the increased load because of the forward position of the head and neck. Your neck, shoulder, and back muscles also experience increased workload as these muscles need to balance the gravitational pull on the forward position of your head. Ultimately, poor posture can lead to stiff neck and other musculoskeletal symptoms.
Your workspace contributes a lot to your posture. A computer desk that is too low may cause you to move your head forward and down, putting that extra strain on your neck. This could then lead to neck stiffness and pain.
Your pillows and your sleeping position could also be culprits to your stiff neck. Too high or stiff pillows will cause your neck to be flexed throughout the night, resulting in neck pain and stiffness. Sleeping on your side can also cause neck strain which could lead to stiff neck. Sleeping on your stomach can also twist your neck to one side. This position could strain not only your neck muscles, but on your spine and back muscles as well.
To avoid putting additional workload on your neck and spine, you should start avoiding the poor habits mentioned above. Here are some tips to get started:
Having a good posture is one good way to prevent having stiff neck. When working on your desk, you can improve your posture by keeping your elbows bent between 90 to 120 degrees, close to your body. Relax your shoulders and ensure that your feet touch the floor. Spend your short breaks by stretching and taking short walks around your office or home. Improving your posture will not only prevent stiff neck, it can also relieve muscle tension on your back and shoulders, improve your breathing, enhance your mood, and even improve your self-confidence.
Modifying your workspace to be posture-friendly is also an excellent move to prevent stiff neck and muscle tension. For example, you can use a laptop stand or platform to keep your laptop at eye level and prevent yourself from having text neck. You can also use a back pillow or other back support tools to fully support your back. This will relieve the strain on your neck, shoulder, and back muscles.
Pillows that conform to the shape of your head and neck, such as feather pillows and memory foam pillows, can help support your neck overnight. This relieves strain on your neck muscles, hence preventing stiff neck.
Changing your sleeping position can also work wonders for your neck. If you are used to sleeping on your side, you can put a pillow in between your legs. Doing this will help in aligning your neck to your spine. Make sure also that your pillow is higher under your neck than it is under your head. Some memory foam pillows are designed such that one side of the pillow is higher than the other side. The higher side should go under your neck. If you frequently sleep on your stomach, try shifting your position by sleeping on your side or back.
Massage therapy sessions will help in relieving muscle tension and pain. Massage is also a great way to relieve stress and anxiety, which are known causes of stiff neck. The following are the massage types that are best for people complaining of stiff neck:
The Moxa Signature Massage with heated Bian stone effectively relieves tension on the neck and back muscles. The heated Bian stone improves blood circulation and promotes muscle relaxation. Aside from relieving stiff neck, the Moxa Signature Massage with heated Bian stone also improves sleep patterns and mood swings.
The Bojin Orthopaedic Massage is another type of massage that is best for relieving stiff neck. This massage therapy uses the specialized Bojin tool that promotes the recovery of muscles and joints by promoting the flow of Qi, or life energy. The Bojin Orthopaedic Massage is also recommended for headaches, lower back pain, stiff shoulder, sciatica, and numbness of the hands.
Deep Tissue Massage is a massage technique that applies deep pressure and slow movements to relieve tension and pain in target muscle areas. It is best in relieving stiff neck, upper and lower back pain, sore shoulders, and other repetitive strain injuries.
The 4P Tension Relief Massage is a unique massage technique that combines different massage methods such as the Swedish, Deep Tissue, Thai, and Acupuncture massage types to provide relief from stiff neck. This massage type uses the right pressure on the right points with the right pace for you to have a perfect pampering experience.
Another great massage choice is the Acupressure Massage. It uses the finger-thumb-palm pressure technique to relieve muscle tension from key areas such as the neck muscles. Overall, this massage type provides holistic healing.