Are you one of those people who have to reverse their car out of the driveway by looking into the rear vision mirror because your neck is too stiff to turn around? Or did you just wake up with a stiff neck and can’t turn your head? These two types of stiff necks must be treated differently.
Whether you have a chronic stiff neck or you have just woken up with a stiff neck and it’s very painful you must do some neck exercises and stretches. The only problem is that if you don’t know which ones to do or don’t do them properly you could do more harm than good.
There are basically two types of stiff necks. The stiff neck as I have just described above which is chronic in nature, in other words you have had this for a long time, and the other one is where you have just woken up with it and you can’t turn your head and its very painful. This type of neck pain and stiffness is normally characterized by being painful to turn to one side and also to bend your head to the same side. It is also very uncomfortable. It is vitally important that you know how to treat these two types of neck pain properly because they need to be treated differently.
Neck stretches for a Type 1 stiff neck:
These are for the people who have had a stiff neck for a long time and have lost range of movement. Their necks have seized yup somewhat and need to get it mobile again.
This must be done carefully and properly.
The first thing that you must do is make sure that your posture is excellent at all times so that you are not hurting your neck all day every day and causing pain.
These exercises can be done 3 times a day every day. Sit tall in a chair (this means that you are not slouched, you are sitting upright and your lower back has an inward arch-the way you should be sitting! – if you do not do this your neck is being compressed whilst you are doing these which is not good) and turn your head to the left as far as it will comfortably go. Hold for one second and return to centre. Repeat these 10 times then do the same for the other side. If you have no problems doing this you can also do what is called overpressure. This means that when you have turned your head as far as it will comfortably go you can use your hand to press gently onto your cheek to push it a little further around to the left or right. This is excellent in helping gain even more range of motion.
The next exercise you should be doing is to sit tall once again and take your left ear to your left shoulder. You are bending your head over to the left towards your left shoulder but your must make sure that you keep your head looking forwards. It is very common for people to want to turn their heads a little as they do this because they get their head a little further down but it is wrong.
The other thing that is important to do is keep lifting your head as you do this. When you bend your head to the side make sure that you have the feeling of lifting your head upwards the whole time you do this. It’s very much as if you were being pulled by a string from the top of your head. Keep that feeling of being pulled up as you bend to the side with your head. This will keep you from compressing your joints too much and help stretch the soft tissues as well as opening up the joint spaces. Hold the stretch for 3 seconds and then return to centre. Repeat 10 times and then do the same on the other side.
Do not put your hand on your head to pull it to the side as this will compress your joints! Keep the feeling of being lifted throughout the entire stretch.
These two simple exercises will help you regain movement if you consistently do them on a regular basis.
You must also make sure that your sleeping positions, pillows and posture are correct so that you are not exacerbating your condition.
The neck stretches for a type 2 stiff neck:
The stretches for this are completely different because the reason you have a stiff neck is also completely different. You have more than likely slept poorly or very soundly and not turned over at all during the night which has reset your resting muscles length and in turn left you with a stiff neck.
This neck problem has not come about generally from one night’s sleep. I would expect you have been spending a lot of time in front of the computer or drove a great deal or just have had your neck in a poor postural position for too long. Your neck is like this because of an accumulation of bad postural habits and this is the straw that broke the camel’s back. You must start addressing your neck posture immediately! If you do not; you will have this problem again. I promise you.