Neck stiffness is a something many people experience from time to time.
It is a common condition that can be triggered by anything from sleeping in an awkward position, sitting hunched for long periods over a desk, to even a sudden tweak caused by lifting something heavy or off a shelf.
Neck stiffness can also be triggered by poor posture, sports injuries and simply a lack of range of motion in the muscles and joints as you age.
So what are the natural remedies that can help heal a stiff neck?
And what are the simple steps you can take to minimise the chances of neck stiffness moving forward?
Here we reveal our four top recommended ways to ease neck stiffness and pain.
1. Make Heat Your Friend
Whilst an ice pack can soothe the pain and inflammation in the short term, heat brings fresh blood flow to the area to help heal and dissipate the pain for good.
Here's three simple methods to help relax your neck muscles and support the healing process:
- Hot Salt Baths - Soak in a hot bath infused with pure Epsom Salts and 10-15 drops of your favourite essential oils to help ease neck pain. Epsom salts reduce stress and tension in the muscles and joints due to the rich magnesium content which is a natural muscle relaxant. Essential oils have amazing plant intelligence that help target healing at a cellular level. Three recommended essential oils for easing neck pain with hot bath soaks are, Eucalyptus, Lavender and Bergamot. For your convenience, we also create our own handcrafted Detox Bath Salts blends incorporating salts and essential oils in our store which you can explore here at tolmanselfcare.com
- Infra Red Saunas - There's nothing more soothing that working up a sweat in a sauna for 20-30 minutes to help release toxins from the body, to boost wellbeing and to relieve sore muscles and joints all rolled into one. Unlike a traditional rock sauna however, which heats the body abruptly from the moment you enter, an infra-red sauna slowly warms the body from the inside out, causing the blood vessels to relax and dilate, increasing blood flow and soothing tension and pain. To access an infra red sauna, check if your city or town is equipped with a recovery or wellness centre that offer infra-red sauna sessions which you can book as desired. Alternatively, there's even an option these days to have your very own infra-red sauna installed in your garage or spare room at home. To learn more about the amazing wellness and pain relief benefits of infra-red saunas visit out blog, 5 ways infra red saunas benefit your health
- Topical Remedies - certain natural oils and balms can be very effective at not only relieving neck pain, but also reducing inflammation and targeting the cellular area beneath the surface to aid healing. Two very effective essential oils to use topically by massaging into the site of neck pain are Peppermint Oil and Ginger Oil. Also, we handcraft two very popular natural remedies that work wonders either individually or as a combination - Golden Re-leaf Topical Oil and Healing Chrysm Topical Balm which you can find in our online store.
2. Gentle Stretching
Gentle stretching can help release tension stored in the muscles, joints and neck areas whilst activating blood flow in the region that is causing you pain.
Three simple stretches that can help neck stiffness that you can try morning and night include the following:
Overhead Stretch -
Stand up straight, shoulder width distance apart, looking straight ahead with your shoulders pulled back. Interlace your fingers with palms facing each other, then gently raise your clasped hands directly over head. Now tilt your head back at look up to our outstretched hands above your head. Hold for 5-10 seconds, lower your hands, then repeat three more times.
Rotating Outstretched Arms -
Start by standing up straight with your shoulders back and feet hip width distance apart. Now, raise your arms out straight to the side of your torso with palms pointing flat to the ground. Next, whilst maintaining your posture, gently rotate your shoulders in a forward circular motion, making small circles at a steady tempo. Perform 20-30 circles forward, then pause and do the same making the circles in reverse. Repeat this sequence 2-3 times.
Thread The Needle -
Start on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and hips over your knees. Reach your right arm underneath and across your body with your palm facing up. Bend your left elbow as you gently lean into your right side. You should feel a stretch in the back of your right shoulder. Hold for one full breath, deeply inhaling then deeply exhaling out in that bottom position for around 30 seconds. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
4. Healing Hands
For centuries, human touch has been recognised as one of the most powerful forms of healing because of the relaxation and healing response it creates in the brain. That's why therapeutic remedies like massage, osteopathic, chiropractic and acupuncture are so effective and should be incorporated as part of your ongoing self care and wellness lifestyle as preventative measures, not just when pain arises.
Two of the most readily available remedies you should be able to find in your area include remedial massage and chiropractic treatment.
Remedial Massage - Remedial massage works to lengthen and relax muscles and tissues, making it a great choice for those suffering from neck and shoulder pain. Find a skilled professional masseuse in your local area and book a 60-90 minute massage if you're suffering neck or back pain, or as a preventative measure once per month. When you go to your session, take one or two of the suggested essential oils we've shared with you here and have your masseuse add a few drops to their massage oil before your treatment starts.
Chiropractic - Chiropractic adjustments can be very effective when it comes to healing neck and back pain. Chiropractors rely on a holistic, non-invasive approach to healing to relieve tension in the musculoskeletal and nervous system to find the root cause of the pain and the best approach for treating it. Periodic chiropractic adjustments are also a very good way to prevent injuries and to maintain long term posture and spinal health. Most chiropractic adjustments are only around 15 minutes after your initial consultation. Look for a local chiropractor and maintain regular visits if you experience regular neck stiffness or pain.
4. Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Foods that are known for their anti-inflammatory powers that you should increase in your diet if you experience regular neck stiffness of pain include:
- Spices like Turmeric, Ginger Cinnamon - Add these to cooking and/or add 2-3 drops of essential oil (Turmeric, Ginger or Cinnamon) to warm water to prepare an anti-inflammatory "tea" and sip early morning and/or before bedtime;
- Onions and Garlic - reduce oxidative stress and are nature's anti-inflammatory super foods. Add them regularly to cooked meals;
- Good Fats - Eat plenty of omega 3 rich fats which protect the nerves and joints, such as extra virgin olive oil, macadamia oil, flax seed oil, grass-fed butter and walnuts. Avoid hydrogenated vegetable seed oils such as canola, safflower and corn oil which are inflammatory;
- Fresh Fruits & Vegetables - Eat a wide variety of antioxidant rich fresh fruits and vegetables sourced locally and spray-free is possible.
Other Tips and Remedies
Other tips and remedies to keep in mind when it comes to reducing neck stiffness and pain include:
- Earthing - connecting your body directly with the earth with activities such as barefooted beach walks or walking on the grass in the park help stimulate the healing process due to the electrons from the earth's surface being absorbed into the body;
- Deep Breathing - intentional deep breathing is one of the best ways to reduce tension in the body and to help relieve pain. Deep breathing involves taking in long concentrated breaths into the diaphragm, then holding and releasing. By repeating this process, you will help to relax the body and reduce muscular and joint tension that is not provided by regular, shallow subconscious breathing
- Posture - Poor posture can cause neck pain by straining the muscles and ligaments that support the neck which can result in injury over time. The most common form of bad posture that leads to neck pain is slumping the shoulders forward and spending hours each day leaning over a desk behind a computer. Good posture is about keeping your neck in the neutral position, which mean your head balances directly over your spine and is not leaning forward cocked to one side. Keep your shoulders down and back in a relaxed position and consciously check in with yourself from time to time.
The Main Takeaway
Neck pain is a common ailment that can show up at any time as a reaction to some type of sudden stress, poor sleeping posture or a lack of joint or muscle mobility or flexibility.
There are a number of simple, natural remedies available for both relieving and expediting the healing process of neck pain that we've shared with you here.
Our main recommendation is to embrace some of these simple self care practices into your lifestyle on a regular basis so that your approach is more preventative than reactionary. After all, this is what self care is all about and it is an approach that will go a long way to helping you avoid and manage neck stiffness and pain.
Tolman Self Care.