If your neck is hurting you, it’s reasonable to want to find relief and find it quickly. Globally, neck pain is a very common condition, impacting almost five percent of the population. It is also a cause of disability, with numbers increasing to 33.6 million disability cases in 2010. There are many scientifically-backed treatments for neck pain, including exercise and stretching, massage, chiropractic adjustments, and acupuncture. In this article, we’ll explore ways for how to relieve neck tension as quickly as possible.
Practice Good Posture
Poor posture of the neck and head, specifically forward head posture (FHP), is, according to this study, a “predictive factor for the occurrence of pain in the cervical (neck) region.”. The good news is that poor posture is easily corrected through attention, proper technique, and exercise.
Poor posture can lead to the overextension or constriction of muscles in your neck and upper back, which can lead to neck tension and pain. Use ergonomic tools such as support cushions, an ergonomic keyboard, a headset, a standing desk, and a properly adjusted office chair to support proper posture while working. Good posture occurs when your neck is centered over your shoulders, and your shoulders are centered over your hips.
Stretching and Exercises with YouMari
Bring physical therapy and massage into the comfort of your own home with YouMari, an advanced self-treatment program that can offer almost instant relief. YouMari is programmed to intelligently assess your issues, track what brings comfort, and determine the type and source of your pain. After YouMari assesses you, it creates a customized self-treatment plan of stretching, exercises, and self-massage to treat the root of your neck tension. If you’re wondering how to relieve neck tension, then YouMari is a safe and effective place to start.
OTC Medicine and Topicals
When it comes to immediate relief, try OTC pain medication or pain relieving creams (topicals). You’ve likely taken some Advil or aspirin for your neck tension before, but have you tried topical analgesics? You can try warming ones with capsaicin, a chili pepper-based anti-inflammatory, or cooling ones with menthol, such as Icy Hot. Arnica, both in herbal or homeopathic form, is a popular topical for pain, especially bruises. There are many brands and types of topical pain relievers, so try a few and see what relief they can offer.
Apply Ice and Heat
Another category for almost instant relief is the hot and cold treatment. Ice is an excellent treatment for hot, inflamed, sore muscles. You can wrap an ice pack or a bag of ice in a light cloth or towel and apply it to the afflicted area for 15-20 minutes, but not longer than 20. Do this up to every hour. Try heat from a heating pad or warming patch for pain or stiffness. Limit heat use to an hour max, or around 30 minutes. When it comes to which to choose, choose the one that makes you feel the best. Heat can also come from a hot shower or bath.
Consider Trying Acupuncture
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that regulates and balances the flow of energy, or Qi, in the body. Slim, hair-like needles are inserted into the skin’s surface, very gently and painlessly, along the pathways that Qi flows. Sometimes your Qi can be blocked, and acupuncture helps to move it along. After the needles are placed, you’ll rest for 20-45 minutes while they do their work. You may feel temperature changes or a slight tension around certain needles; all that means is that your energy is starting to flow. Many people sleep or meditate during this time, making it extra relaxing.
In one study of patients with tension neck syndrome, a catch-all term for painful conditions of the neck and shoulders, acupuncture was found to bring sustained relief to study participants, on its own and in conjunction with physical therapy. And one of the most promising findings was that the study participants were still experiencing the benefits six months later.
Find a Chiropractor
Many people with neck tension find relief with chiropractic care. This study reviewed studies of chiropractic care and people with acute neck pain, and while more research is warranted, it found that study participants reported reduced pain and symptom relief from chiropractic adjustments. It might seem a little intimidating if you’ve never been to a chiropractor. Do your research and find a chiropractor with good reviews or happy patients. That will help you relax when it’s time for your adjustment. And, like with any treatment, stop or find a different practitioner if it’s not working or helping.
Physical therapy for neck pain is an effective way to find relief for neck tension. Physical therapy can help strengthen weak muscles as well as release tight muscles due to poor posture. Good physical therapy helps you have proper ergonomics or physical form and posture that will prevent your head and neck from coming out of alignment. Your physical therapist will likely give you exercises and stretches to do at home that may help relieve your neck tension.
Start a Yoga Practice
Studies suggest that yoga might be a good treatment option for chronic neck pain and its potential for disability, and the negative impact it has on quality of life and mood. Yoga is a system of combined breath and movements that originated in India and has been practiced for thousands of years. Yoga is highly beneficial to health and good for many portions of the population, including children and older adults. Its popularity is growing, and no wonder, given its many benefits. Yoga helps manage stress, improves balance, and supports a healthy weight, all of which are factors in neck tension. Yoga’s also been found to help with chronic pain such as the condition of fibromyalgia. Other pain conditions it helps includes low back pain, neck pain, and headaches. There are many resources for yoga, including instructional videos, in-person classes, and one-on-one private lessons. If you don’t live somewhere with a yoga studio, then many of these resources are available online. There are even online yoga classes if the group atmosphere helps you.
Get a Massage
For how to relieve neck tension, look no further than massage therapy. Studies of massage for neck pain show that it is a highly effective treatment. Massage helps to reduce neck and shoulder pain, and study participants reported fewer bothersome symptoms. Massage helps to relieve neck tension through its effects on muscle and connective tissue, such as loosening adhesions, movement of lymph fluid, and stimulation of neural activity in the area. There are many types of massage, and some might be more effective at relieving neck tension.
Take a look at what you’re sleeping on. You may not realize it, but your sleep posture might be affecting your neck. If your pillow or mattress isn’t offering your back enough support, it cannot be easy to sleep with good posture. A new pillow or a foam topper for your mattress are quick fixes that aren’t as expensive as a new mattress. Consider investing in a new mattress if yours is pretty old. Waking up without neck pain is a worthwhile cause.
Even if you’ve had neck tension for a long time, it’s possible to address it naturally with the right kinds of movement, therapeutic and healing modalities, and supportive structures like a new mattress or desk chair. Take heart and take care of yourself. With consistent, gentle effort, you can likely find relief through stretching, exercises, massage, and the other treatments we discussed.