For some people, cold weather is a good thing—exciting even. It's a sign that the holidays are nearing, and we're about to head into a new year. But for others, cold weather can be a pain in the neck—literally. If you're experiencing neck pain during the colder seasons, it's not in your head. It's a real phenomenon, and it affects thousands of people. In fact, the colder it gets the worse the pain feels. And sometimes it not only affects your neck, but it can cause shoulder stiffness and joint pain too. Mix all three and it can be a debilitating combination, making you feel miserable. And no one wants to feel this way during the holidays. So why does it even happen? And what can you do to get rid of the pain? Today, we're going to cover everything you need to know regarding neck pain from cold weather.
Why Do We Experience Neck Pain During Cold Weather?
The most common cause of neck pain during cold weather happens when we get sick. Cold weather often means a higher risk of catching a common cold, flu viruses, or —in worse cases—meningitis. Our lymph nodes or glands become swollen and tender anytime our body fights a virus or other infections. Swollen lymph nodes can give us a stiff neck, and you might even feel the lumps in your neck—which can feel a bit weird. But it's just a sign that your body is fighting off an infection. If you're experiencing other symptoms aside from neck pain, seek professional medical advice. Meningitis usually causes neck pain with fever, nausea, vomiting, confusion, headaches, and fatigue. If you aren't feeling any of these symptoms, keep reading cause it's probably something else.
Another reason we might feel neck pain during cold weather, we tend to lift our shoulders and hunch our backs as a natural reaction to cold air. Doing this often can lead to poor posture and makes your neck feel stiff. Other times, the cold air triggers our nervous system, which causes our muscles to tighten up, constrict our blood vessels, and limit blood flow. This is another natural reaction of our bodies to reduce heat loss. But in turn, the poor blood flow causes muscle soreness, hence neck pain.
What Can We Do to Alleviate Pain from Neck Muscles During Cold Weather?
You can treat some neck pain with home remedies, while others may require some form of medical treatment or rehabilitation. Having said that, here is some advice to help get rid of your neck pain:
Remember cold neck equals a painful neck. So stay warm. Try to avoid cold and damp places and always layer with warm clothing—even indoors. This is a great opportunity for you to wear all your favorite sweaters, socks, and scarves. If you aren't feeling sick, why not give yourself a spa day? Go ahead and relax in a hot bath or swim in a heated pool. And if you don't feel too well just stay in and cuddle under the blanket with a hot drink. Just do whatever you can to stay warm. Motion is lotion. The more you move and get your blood flowing, the better you will feel. We'll talk about this more momentarily.
Ice and heat packsWe know what you're thinking—a heat pack makes sense, but why use an ice pack? Ice packs help reduce inflammation in your neck area, while heat packs help loosen tense muscles. It is often advised to use both alternately, instead of using one over the other. When using the two packs, make sure not to put them directly onto your skin. You should wrap them with some cloth or linen first and then place them on your muscles. Here are some other reminders:
- Do not use an ice pack for more than 20 minutes.
- Do not fall asleep with either pack on your body.
- Remove the packs if you notice any discomfort.
- Make sure that your heat pack isn't excessively hot.
Over-the-Counter MedicationOver-the-counter (OTC) treatment such as pain relievers, whether oral or topical, can definitely provide relief. If you're already taking cold or cough medication do not take any other oral medication unless advised by a medical professional.
Some cough and cold medications already contain pain relievers. Taking both medications at the same time might cause you to overdose.
Being active during cold weather, especially in winter, can help alleviate pain in your muscles and joints. Try to do something active every day and it doesn't even have to be a complex routine. Something as simple as brisk walking, walking up and down your stairs for 15 minutes, or doing 10 chair squats every hour or so can already count as exercise. But the best pain relief for your neck would have to be neck training, which we'll talk more about later on. It should go without saying that if you're suffering from neck pain, you'll want to target the neck directly.
Signs Your Neck Pain Might Be Caused By A Weak NeckAsk yourself, do you only experience neck pain during cold weather, or have you felt it before, and is only aggravated further when it's cold? If you've felt neck pain before, maybe even accompanied by:
- feelings of unsteadiness
- shoulder pain
- muscle spasm
- poor posture
- head feeling heavy
- muscle stiffness or stiff neck
These are signs that you may have a weak neck. Fortunately, you can reverse having a weak neck, and the best way to do so is by neck training
Why Neck Training Is the Best Way to Get Rid of Neck and Shoulder Pain
Physical therapists have been using neck training to help rehabilitate people who suffer from neck trauma. But neck training is not just a form of rehabilitation. It is also great for neck injury prevention down the road. It has been proven that having a strong neck reduces the risk of concussions. This is why athletes such as football players, wrestlers, mixed martial artists, and boxers do neck training to protect themselves from possible concussions that usually occur in these types of sports. Having a stronger neck has also been shown to significantly reduce neck pain, muscle stiffness, and improve mobility. So if you want to reduce neck pain, you should start neck training! Here is what you need to know.
Strengthen Your Neck & Prevent Further Neck Pain with The Iron NeckThere's one essential item that everyone needs when it comes to neck training—the Iron Neck Training Device. We know that the Iron Neck might look intimidating at first glance. But it's the #1 neck strengthener in the world for a reason. Our clients are mainly physical therapists, MMA, BJJ, and football athletes, but anyone suffering from neck pain will benefit from using the Iron Neck.
When we created the Iron Neck, our goal was to help prevent the risk of serious injuries that can occur when you have a weak neck. But we soon learned that by having a strong neck, you are also able to improve your posture and increase your mobility. All the while getting rid of neck pain.
If you want the neck pain to stop so you can finally start enjoying the colder seasons, start neck training with the Iron Neck! We even have resistance bands and a neck harness if you want to start a bit slower, along with bars, handles, and straps that help with full-body resistance training. You can stay warm and active when winter comes without dealing with a weak neck. Grab your training essentials today and start reversing the effects of your weak neck!