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How to Loosen A Stiff Neck: Quick Tips

  • 6 min read

Got a stiff neck? Neck stiffness not only leads to pain but also leaves you immobile, interfering with your daily life. Obviously, you want to get rid of it as soon as possible.

Fortunately, neck pain and stiffness usually go away on their own after a few days. But if you want to speed up the process, you're in luck. We're going to share some home remedies and neck stretches below. These will help loosen up your neck muscles and get rid of neck pain in no time.

But before we move on to treatment, let's talk about what causes a stiff neck in the first place. If you want to prevent neck stiffness and pain in the future, you need to know what caused it so you can avoid doing it again.

 

What Causes A Stiff Neck?

Neck pain and stiffness occur to more than 17 percent of women and more than 12 percent of men1. Modern technology compels us to crane our necks towards our screens—causing the dreaded tech neck. In fact, the number of people experiencing neck pain and stiffness increases each year.

But aside from technology, there are other things that may cause a stiff neck. Here are some of the most common:

Poor posture

Think about your daily routine. Do you do any of these things?

  • Constantly craning your neck towards your devices.
  • Tucking your phone in between your ear and shoulder when answering a call.
  • Sleeping in an abnormal position.
  • Sitting for long periods (e.g. when driving or working a desk job).

All of these, and more, contribute to poor posture which can lead to neck pain and stiffness. Taking note of your posture and actively trying to fix it can work wonders for those with stiff necks. Check out our complete guide on neck posture exercises for more information. 

Stress

When we're stressed, we carry a lot of tension in our shoulders, back, and neck muscles. We also tend to clench our jaws when we're stressed.

This tension creates knots in our muscles, tightening them and restricting blood flow. When our muscles aren't getting enough blood, they also aren't getting enough oxygen and nutrients to help keep them healthy. This eventually leads to pain and stiffness.

Repetitive neck motions

Certain activities may cause you to do repetitive neck motions, which ultimately leads to hurting your neck. If you do the same thing over and over again - which is common in sports and exercise - it can lead to an overuse injury.

Osteoarthritis

Neck pain and stiffness are symptoms of a bone disease known as osteoarthritis. It is caused by the wear and tear of the cartilage in between your joints. As we get older, we are more susceptible to getting osteoarthritis. Genetics, obesity, and injuries may also lead to this disease.

Neck or spinal injuries 

Neck pain and stiffness are also symptoms of neck and spine injuries. Neck injuries are usually caused by falls, whiplash, or other impacts to the neck or spine area. It can occur during car accidents (even minor ones) and close-contact sports (e.g. boxing, football, BJJ, MMA).

If you recently experienced a fall or some other kind of impact on your spine and start to feel any neck and back pain, see a doctor as soon as possible.

Diseases 

Serious illnesses such as cancer or meningitis can cause muscle stiffness and neck pain. Although this is very rare, so don't panic. There are only 600 to 1000 cases of meningitis in the United States each year. That's 1000 in 300 million.

 

When To See A Doctor

Stiffness and pain in the neck are usually not a cause of concern. But there are times when stiffness and pain in the neck are more serious than they may initially appear. If your neck pain and stiffness are accompanied by:

  • pain that radiates towards your arms or legs
  • numbness, pins-and-needles, or weakness in your arms, hands, or legs
  • headaches
  • fever
  • trouble controlling bladder and bowel movements
  • or if your pain started after an injury or collision

...then you should see a doctor. There may be more serious underlying factors at play.

 

How To Treat A Stiff Neck At Home

If you aren't experiencing any of the symptoms we mentioned above, then there's nothing to worry about. You can easily treat your stiff neck with these simple yet effective home remedies:

Limit Physical Activity

If your pain was caused by a certain physical activity, you should limit that activity until the stiffness and pain go away. Don't just sit around and do nothing, though. Motion is lotion, as they say. Take a daily walk or do some light stretches. Just do something to get the blood flowing. This will rapidly loosen up your tight muscles.

Apply Heat Or Ice

Apply an ice pack over the affected areas for instant pain relief. Do this for the first 48 to 72 hours. This can help reduce swelling and inflammation in the area, which may be causing your pain and stiffness. After two or three days, switch to a heating pad and use it for another 48 to 72 hours. Make sure to wrap your ice pack and heating pad in a cloth. Do not allow it to touch your bare skin, or you risk getting burnt.

Pain Relievers

Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and acetaminophen can help relieve pain instantly. If OTC pain relievers aren't enough to relieve the pain, then you might want to visit a doctor and get a check-up to see if they can prescribe a stronger pain reliever. 

 

3 Neck Stretches With The Iron Neck To Relieve Stiff Neck & Neck Pain

If you want to get rid of stiffness and pain, prevent it from coming back, and reduce the risks of injuries in the future, you have to train with the number one piece of neck training equipment—Iron Neck. 

The Iron Neck is used by thousands of physical therapists. It is used to relieve and rehabilitate any pains and injuries to the neck. It's the only neck training device that allows you to target all the muscles in your neck, allowing for full neck mobility and strength.

Below we've listed the top three exercises for relieving pain and stiffness using the Iron Neck. When you're doing these exercises, do them slowly. Do not make any sudden movements as this may cause more damage to your neck.

Neck Flexion

With your Iron Neck on and resistance band anchored, stand with your back straight and your head in a neutral position, facing away from the anchor point. Slowly tilt your head forward. Your chin should come towards the chest, eyes looking down towards the floor.

You should feel the stretch at the back of your neck. It should feel like a comfortable stretch and not painful. Hold this position for 5 seconds before slowly returning your head to its neutral position.

Lateral Neck Flexion

This time you want to face towards the side. The resistance band should be at the side of your body. Move your ear towards your shoulder, pulling against the resistance band. Your shoulders should be in a neutral and leveled position as you do this.

It should not hunch up as you move your head. Do not force your ear to touch your shoulder. Flex it as far as it can comfortably go to the side. Hold the pose for 5 seconds, then slowly return your head to a neutral position, face towards the other side, and repeat on the opposite shoulder.

Look Left & Look Right

Instead of bending your neck sideways, you rotate it so that you're looking to your left or your right. Do not move your torso as you do this. Your head should be the only thing moving. Face towards where the resistance band is hooked. Turn your head to look to the left, hold the pose for 5 seconds, and then rotate your head to the right and hold.

For a complete guide on neck training with the Iron Neck, visit our blog! If you're looking for more neck training equipment, we also offer a head harness. And for full-body training, check out our collection of resistance training equipment. We've got resistance loop bands, resistance bars, and plenty more.