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Five easy steps to ease your stiff neck

Updated on June 1, 2017
Move your head towards the affected side then apply an opposite force using your hand
Move your head towards the affected side then apply an opposite force using your hand
Stretch the affected area by moving your head towards the opposite side
Stretch the affected area by moving your head towards the opposite side

5 Steps to Ease Your Stiff Neck...

Have you ever woke up having stiff neck? Have you experienced the pain when turning your head on another side? Well, here are some good tips you can do to ease that stiffness. Please remember that these steps cannot be used for neck conditions that need medical attention. If you got stiff neck because you hold your neck in certain position for a long period of time, you slept in the wrong position, stiffness as a result of having too high pillow, and the likes, then it's safe to do the following:

  1. Get a warm towel or it would be better if you have a hot pack (gel based) at home as it is not as messy as a towel dipped in hot water. Leave the towel or hot pack on the stiffed part of your neck. Usually, you will have to leave it for about 5 minutes or until the heat disappeared. The warmth will help relax your neck muscles. If you're using a warm towel, it would be best if you have a bucket filled with hot water and about 2-3 pieces of towels so you can change it as often as needed. You can keep doing this until you feel a bit of ease from the pain. Just a reminder, do not overdo it as you might get skin burn especially if you're using a hot pack. And before applying the warm towel or hot pack on the affected part, make sure that you have a dry towel on it to prevent skin burn as well.
  2. Now, we're going to do some exercise. On the affected side, let's say, you can't move your head going to your left. Turn your head going to the right but prevent the movement by pushing it back to face your left using your hand. Keep this position for about 10 seconds, then relax for 5 seconds. You can ask someone to hold your head or you can use your own hand to do this.
  3. After that, move your head going to your left until you feel the pain. Once you felt the pain, go back to step 2. Just don't push it too hard as you might feel a lot of pain. Be patient and keep it easy. This exercise will help stretch your stiffed neck muscle.
  4. Now check if there's a progress then apply the hot pack or warm towel on the affected part once more to have it relaxed.
  5. Try to move your head from different directions - side to side, left to right, look down and look up, and rotation (circular motion). Moving your shoulders as well will help your neck muscles to relax.

When doing the exercises, it is important to remember not to force your muscle to do the movements to prevent any injury. When you feel pain, stop and apply warm compress to reduce the pain. If it persists, stop the whole process. The main goal is to make sure your muscle is relaxed and you feel comfortable all throughout. Of course, there will be a feeling of pain and slight discomfort, which is normal but it should be tolerable enough to go through with the exercises.

Remember, the purpose of these steps is to relax your muscle to reduce or eliminate the stiffness that is causing the pain.

If swelling exists, do not apply hot compress as it will exacerbate the condition. This exercise should be done for pain that is muscular in nature, and not applicable when there is injury.

It is still best to consult a doctor or to have your neck checked by a physiatrist or a physical therapist so you can be given professional attention.

Did you find the tips helpful?

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    • JKSophie profile image

      JKSophie 19 months ago from Philippines

      We need to be careful when deciding whether to use heat vs ice compress, Alanna. If there is inflammation or injury, do not use heat as it can make it worse. On the flip side, if it's a simple muscle pain or stiffness, ice can make muscle tension and spasms worse. In general, stiff neck is most likely caused by stress or incorrect posture, which is muscular in nature. The muscle needs to release that tension and relax the mind, which we can achieve by applying heat.

    • profile image

      Alanna 2 years ago

      Doctor told me to use ice *not* heat. It doesn't feel as nice but does calm the inflammation vs. heat can actually exacerbate the issue.

    • profile image

      Noah Mason 2 years ago

      I have had problems with sciatica for over 2 years and nothing helped. I looked for "treatment for Sciatica" "Sciatica treatment" and "relief for Sciatica" and came out on This website looks really promising, also because my friend Sonja has tried this out and she told me this actually worked really well.

    • profile image

      yzelgutierrez 4 years ago

      thank you,i feel relax now!!

    • profile image

      Justin Bisset 5 years ago

      Thanks, this really helps.

    • JKSophie profile image

      JKSophie 6 years ago from Philippines

      at least 15 times or until you feel comfortable

    • profile image

      joshua sanchez 6 years ago

      how many times should i keep looking back and forth

    • profile image

      Troll 6 years ago

      stop giving your husband head and you wont have a stiff neck.

    • profile image

      Ramona 6 years ago

      Ok so I was giving my husband head and I woke up with a stiff neck. What should I do?

    • profile image

      trouble 6 years ago

      it sort of worked for me

    • profile image

      asad 6 years ago

      It's like magic much better .. still cant move all the way right still trying to :)

    • profile image

      Brittany 7 years ago

      Wow, this stretch helped me so much! Thank you for sharing!!!

    • JKSophie profile image

      JKSophie 8 years ago from Philippines

      That's great! I appreciate your effort in creating an account to say "thanks" :) You're welcome and I'm glad that this article helped you.

    • profile image

      LuvnLilLady 8 years ago

      I had to create an account just so that I may thank you for this article...I've been stiff in the neck and upper back for two days and Tylenol helped a bit. But after doing this, I haven't done the heat part yet...I felt SOOOO MUCH better!!! Thanx so much. Oh and the cause was my unnatural body position for the night when my little Kindergartener decided to sleep with me...besides using a HUGE pillow that same night. I'm still stiff...but as I keep doing this, it lessens the stiffness. I'm going to add the heat when I get the chance. Again thanx!

    • JKSophie profile image

      JKSophie 8 years ago from Philippines

      Thanks for the comment AllanChan :)

    • AllanChan profile image

      AllanChan 8 years ago from Singapore And UK

      I often get stiff neck from bad sleeping postures. Its good to know that there are many easy ways to relief it. Thanks.

    • JKSophie profile image

      JKSophie 9 years ago from Philippines

      It is possible that problems with your feet can cause neck and back pain, Doylestown Chiropractor.  Any disturbance in the alignment of our skeletal structure supporting our posture may cause strain, and therefore, can result to neck or back pain.

    • profile image

      Doylestown Chiropractor 9 years ago

      I had neck and back pain for many years before I realized that my neck and back pain was actually caused by problems with my feet. I tried Doylestown chiropractors that used MUA and Torque release methods.

    • C.S.Alexis profile image

      C.S.Alexis 9 years ago from NW Indiana

      Thumbs Up!

    • JKSophie profile image

      JKSophie 9 years ago from Philippines

      Thanks for your comment. Just an advise, if you're getting stiff neck often, it would be best to see a doctor (a physiatrist or orthopedic in particular) to check if there's something's wrong, other than pain due to muscular stiffness. :-)

    • Stacie L profile image

      Stacie L 9 years ago

      this is a good info for us stiff neck sufferers!

    • JKSophie profile image

      JKSophie 9 years ago from Philippines

      Thank you all. I hope these steps will help you. :-)

    • premsingh profile image

      premsingh 9 years ago

      Tips are really useful to get rid of pain. I use this exercise but warm towel treatment is new. I'll try this.

    • Dottie1 profile image

      Dottie1 9 years ago from MA, USA

      Thank you for sharing these five easy steps.

    • BeatsMe profile image

      BeatsMe 9 years ago

      Stiff neck is a good idea for a hub. ;) I will bookmark this in case I have a stiff neck. But I hope it doesn't happen.


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