Almost everyone has experienced a kink in the neck and we all know that it can ruin your day when it happens.
In the vast majority of cases, a stiff neck is caused by a simple muscle strain or sprain that will heal on its own.
However, there are several self-management or self-treatment options that can speed up healing time to get you feeling better. In this article, I'm going to offer a few tips and tricks to help you out.
#1 – Self-Myofascial Release of Your Neck
One of the first recommendations I have for you is to work on releasing the muscles of your neck.
The muscles I would specifically focus on include:
- Sternocleidomastoid Muscle
- Levator Scapulae Muscle
- Trapezius Muscle
There are several techniques you can utilize to self-myofascial release.
You can simply use hands by pinching your fingers together and sliding them across the muscles, or you can use a myofascial tool such as a lacrosse ball, small rubber ball or theracane.
Yes… you will feel pain while working through these muscles. However, if you stick to it, you'll notice that your muscles begin to release and you will get more relief as you proceed to loosen things up.
#2 – Stretching Your Neck Muscles
The second part of this protocol is to work on stretching your neck muscles.
Stretch the back part of your neck:
Start by sitting or standing and placing the hand on the side to be stretched behind your body. Then turn your head away from the side to be stretched and slowly tuck your chin. Hold for a few seconds and then relax. This stretch helps to improve flexibility, joint range of motion and circulation into the upper, middle and lower trapezius muscles.
Stretch the front part of your neck:
Start by contacting the SCM muscle at its origin (basically your clavicle), and then while firmly pressing against the muscle, extend your head and rotate or side bend to the opposite side.
You should feel a gentle stretch from your finger tips upward. Hold for a few seconds and then relax.
#3 – Upper Extremity and Neck Mobility
Finally, we want to start working on restoring movement of your upper extremity (shoulders) and neck.
I would work on rotating your neck left to right as well as looking up and down as far as possible. Perform these movements at a frequency of 10-15 reps per side and repeat throughout the day.
In addition, it would be great if you could perform arm swings. Arm swings or circles help to improve circulation throughout the muscles of your upper extremity.