If there is one thing that is sure to put a kink in your day, it’s a morning pain in the neck. No, we aren’t referring to your spouse or kids or even your job, but that annoying pain and stiffness in your neck that you notice when you first get out of bed.
If you are waking up with neck pain every morning, you are either willing to try just about anything or you have already tried just about everything to get rid of it.
If you are here because you wake up with neck pain and a headache every morning, or you have severe neck pain after sleeping, we want to offer you some valuable advice and tips for neck pain relief.
Neck pain can occur because of several reasons, so you need to do a little investigating to help you figure out what the cause is, so you can find morning neck pain relief.
9 Tips for Stopping Morning Neck Pain
Perhaps one of the biggest causes of neck pain comes from using the wrong type of pillow. You might be thinking that your pillow is fine, you’ve had it for years and it’s been great, but that is exactly the problem.
Most pillows are only good for 3-5 years, tops. Feather pillows are notorious for wearing out about every 12-15 months!
The first thing you should consider is replacing your old pillow. Most people find that the new memory foam pillows are best, but others swear by water filled pillows that offer a changing level of support, depending on how much water you fill them with.
Is it better for your neck to sleep without a pillow? Only if you prefer to sleep on your stomach. Side sleepers will absolutely need a pillow with good support and back sleepers need only a thin or contoured pillow.
Tip #2-Sleep Position Check
The truth here is that if you are sleeping on your stomach most of the night, you probably aren’t doing your neck any favors. When you sleep on your stomach, you are forced to twist your head to one side or the other to breathe. Chances are that you are putting your arms under your head or above your head as well, which is also known to cause neck and shoulder pain.
Avoid sleeping on your stomach. Sew a tennis ball into the front of your pajamas so you will roll over and sleep on your side or back. If you have changed your pillow and stopped sleeping on your stomach but you still have morning neck pain, it’s time to make an appointment with your chiropractor.
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Tip #3-Electronics Check
Let’s face it, our cell phones have become such an integral part of our lives that, like our thumbs, we would be hard pressed to imagine life without them.
Unfortunately, all that time spent with your neck bent down to look at your cell phone or tablet takes a pretty hard toll on your neck. The added stress on the joints and ligaments can lead to actual changes in your neck structure.
Avoid text neck by raising the phone to more of an eye level, looking up and stretching your neck every few minutes, and just plain old setting it down and doing something else to give your neck a rest!
Tip #4-Headset Check
If your job requires you to use the phone a great deal and you are cradling it between your ear and your shoulder, it’s no wonder you have neck pain in the morning!
Use a hands-free device or a headset whenever possible. Sometimes speaker phones do the job nicely, allowing you to write or type while talking without having to twist your neck to cradle the phone.
Don’t skip over this one! We realize that you hear the words “drink water” so much that you want to simply gloss over this detail because, yeah, you get it, drink water, but water is more important than you realize.
The discs in your neck act like little shock absorbers between the vertebra in your neck. They are made up of mostly, you guessed it, water. You can help prevent neck pain and keep your neck more flexible by drinking those 8 glasses of water a day.
Tip #6-Weight Check
This one isn’t regarding your body weight, but the weight you carry in your hands, on your arms, or on your shoulders every day. Almost everyone carries some type of purse, briefcase, tote, or backpack. A very common mistake that gives people terrible neck pain is when they carry a heavy load on only one side of the body. This really strains the muscles in the neck.
Lighten the load as much as possible and carry only what you must. Then consider distributing the weight evenly so you can carry a bit on each side. If you use a backpack, don’t hold it on one shoulder, but use it as it was intended.
You might already be thinking of your mother’s lectures about sitting up straight or standing up straight. Don’t you hate it when you find out mom was right? She might not have mentioned that poor posture can lead to neck pain, however.
When sitting at work, the head and shoulders pushed forward position is the most common mistake that causes neck pain. Try one of the new devices that sounds an alarm if you slouch forward too much.
Tip #8-Trigger Point Release Check
When the joints of the lower part of the neck become irritated, they often lead to painful muscle trigger points. These small knots in the fascia or the muscles are quite painful and often need massage to be released.
You can try to accomplish this yourself or you can get professional help via a chiropractic massage. Massage therapy is loaded with benefits, one of which is the relief from painful muscles and trigger points, which will offer less morning neck pain.
A chiropractic massage differs from a day spa type of massage in that it is performed under the guidance of the chiropractor. If you are experiencing neck pain on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to get a full exam and diagnosis performed by your local chiropractor to rule out other issues such as disc degeneration, osteoarthritis, or spinal stenosis.
After your exam, the chiropractor will direct the therapist on where they should apply more pressure or less pressure, where your trigger points are, and which type of massage would be best for your condition.
Tip #9-Morning Stretches
Sometimes, the cause of morning neck pain is never really known or it’s a reaction to stress. You can help to relieve that stiff, sore neck by performing some simple morning stretches, including these:
- Side Neck Release-Sit or stand and slowly bend your head down so your nose is close to your right armpit. Place your right hand behind your head and the left arm behind your back. With your right hand, gently pull down until you feel a light stretch. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat with the left side.
- Chest Opener-Too much typing tends to shorten the muscles in the front of the chest, which pulls on the neck and shoulders. Stretch your chest by standing or sitting up straight and clasping your hands together behind you. Pull your shoulders down by straightening out your arms, then squeeze the shoulder blades together. Lift your chin up and tilt your head back. Hold this for position for 5 to 15 seconds.
- Make a Double Chin-You can do this simple exercise either sitting or standing. Simply take two fingers and place them on your chin. Without moving your chin, use your fingers to gently push your chin in towards your spine, creating a double chin. Repeat these 10 times.
- Back of the Neck Stretch- This is another stretch you can do sitting or standing, and it feels so good. Clasp your hands together and place them right at the base of your skull. Pull your elbows to the side of your head and very gently, pull down. Relax your shoulders and don’t let them hunch up around your ears. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds.
You might also want to consider taking up yoga or Pilates to keep your body flexible and limber, as well as for releasing stress that can lead to neck pain. If you want more stretching exercises, you can find them here.
When Should I See a Chiropractor about Neck Pain?
If you have tried everything, including most of the tips in this guide, and you still suffer from chronic neck pain, you should probably consider seeing your chiropractor sooner, rather than later.
Chronic neck pain that does not respond to other treatments or stretching rarely goes away on its own. It’s very possible that you have a more serious, underlying problem that needs to be addressed. Chiropractic care is better at treating neck pain that almost any other type of treatment.
Chiropractors are highly trained specialists and can diagnose and treat almost all neck and back pain problems. If you need a different type of doctor, your chiropractor will give you a referral to the proper specialist that can treat you.
Chiropractic care can offer conservative, drug free treatment options that seek to stop the source of your pain, not simply mask it with addictive pain killers.
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Chronic neck pain can make every day a difficult one. We encourage you to call one of our offices at Better Health Chiropractic and Rehab for a no obligation appointment. You can also make an appointment online by clicking here.
Our helpful staff will be happy to answer all your questions and check with your insurance provider regarding coverage and copays or deductibles. If you have no insurance, you should read this article.
Don’t let that neck pain turn you into a pain in the neck. Call us today for a same day appointment.