Have you ever found yourself waking up with a sharp pain in the neck so much that it completely hinders your neck motion?
Or have you ever worked on your computer so long that you ended with the worst neck pain that it again prevents you from moving your neck easily?
If yes, then chances are you have suffered the hideous pain of neck tightness. The above two situations are not the only ones where one can experience this severe condition; there are many situations where one can go through neck tension.
Our neck is made of highly flexible muscles that can be easily irritated or injured by overuse or postural issues.
This is why people complain of neck muscle tension all the time because even slight discomfort can cause neck tightness.
There is a myriad of causes, from minor to major. Many times, people experience it on and off but do not give much attention.
But when the pain becomes noticeable, that is when one needs to know how to cure it.
Let’s tap more into the treatments, causes, and prevention of neck tightness to help you combat the gruesome pain.
What is neck tightness?
Neck tightness is a very common condition. It occurs mainly because of muscle spasms or tissue injuries in the neck. These muscles and tissues are present in the neck and are quite flexible. A little overuse or slightly bad posture can trigger these spasms that can ultimately cause neck tightness.
Most of the time, people experience neck pain caused by compressed nerves, but when we talk about neck tightness, it is solely related to neck tension resulting from spasm or injuries to the soft tissues.
Symptoms of neck tightness
The symptoms of neck tightness can either come suddenly or take time to develop fully. However, they are usually the same in almost everyone and can immediately give a person an idea of what it is.
The common symptoms of neck tightness include:
- Muscle stiffness
- Muscles soreness
- Sharp pain in the neck
- Difficulty in moving head
- Muscle tightness
- Worst pain in specific positions
Causes of neck tightness
If truth be told, it is next to impossible to list each possible cause of neck tension because there are so many. However, the most common ones are listed below.
The most common cause of neck tightness is bad posture. Our neck is responsible for bearing the weight of our head evenly. A good posture supports the neck in maintaining weight.
Therefore, bad posture can cause the neck to work harder to bear the weight evenly, leading to severe strain in the neck muscles.
Bad posture can happen for many reasons, but there are two instances when it occurs the most; hunching over a computer or using your phone.
When you hunch over a computer or look down at the screen of your phone, the muscles in your neck overextend, which results in strain and ultimately inflammation.
It can be hard for people who have to spend their work hours in front of the computer, maintain a good posture.
Most of the time, we clench or grind our teeth without even noticing. Sometimes we do it to the point where it starts impacting our neck muscles. Teeth clenching puts pressure on the jaw muscles that run into neck muscles, causing neck tightness.
There are, however, several ways to relax your jaw muscles that will ultimately relax your neck muscles.
Stress is a very common cause of neck tightness. In times of stressful situations, we tend to tense up. Neck muscles being the most delicate ones, take adverse impact and tense up pretty bad. This cause is one of the leading ones that occurred frequently.
Headaches are one of the symptoms of neck tension, but they are also the cause. Mild to moderate headaches occurring around the forehead region spreads below and causes tension in neck muscles that ignites severe pain in the neck.
Whiplash injury happens when your neck snaps to and fro forcefully, usually due to a car or other type of accident. This injury strains the neck muscles and causes them to tense up, leading to neck pain.
Whiplash injury is overlooked many times, and people go by living their lives easily after accidents. However, immediately getting a checkup can do wonders in curbing its intensification.
Good posture is important for keeping your neck in a healthy state, be it when you are sitting, standing, or even walking. But it is also important when you are sleeping. Certain sleeping positions harm your neck.
They include sleeping on the stomach and sleeping on elevated pillow levels. Both of these positions overextend your neck muscles, causing tension in them.
Neck tension caused by sleeping posture is usually quite bad because they result from prolonged neck strain due to staying in one position all night long. So, you should be careful and adjust pillow levels properly before sleeping.
Repetitive movements performed throughout the day can lead to repetitive motion disorders. These disorders are mainly associated with hands, shoulders, and wrists, but muscle strain in these body parts can travel up to the neck.
These disorders can be quite harmful as they have the potential of causing permanent tissue damage if left untreated.
Lifting heavy weights like heavy boxes or bags can create an imbalance in your body, putting strain on your neck as a result. Ultimately, the tension builds in your neck, and you experience neck tightness.
Many novices experience this condition during weightlifting due to their body being unfamiliar with the weightlifting exercises.
How to treat Neck Tightness?
There are almost five to six treatments for neck tightness, and each one holds equal effectiveness. Let’s dig in without any further ado.
There are a few quite common neck stretches that you can do to target the muscles in your neck directly. These include:
- Front to back neck stretch
- Side to side neck stretch
- Neck Rotation side to side
- Overpressure stretch
- Levator scapulae stretch
All the above five stretches are performed by transitioning into one another. Watch the video by Doctor Jo, a licensed Physical Therapist, to see how to perform these exercises correctly.
Ice or Heat
Applying ices or heat on the stiff area helps in relieving the inflammation. Do it for twenty minutes, and you should feel pain-alleviating soon.
You can use ice or a warm pad for the purpose, but if you don’t have pads available warm or cold bath can do the work.
While taking a bath, make sure to set a certain temperature tolerable for you and not more than that.
Get Ergonomic Stuff
The most common reason for neck stiffness is postural issues. If you are someone who has o spend hours sitting in a chair or working on a computer, then use adjustable chairs and desk.
You can also find specifically designed ergonomic chairs in the market that fit properly with your posture such that it feels like it is made for you only.
But if sitting all the time is affecting your health adversely, then a standing desk is a good solution for you. Health experts suggest that standing desks must be placed in offices because prolonged sitting creates health risks.
Through research, it has been found that this traditional Chinese treatment is effective in treating muscular pain, including tension in the neck. But it is not completely well established that acupuncture can guarantee hundred percent treatment for everyone.
This treatment involves stimulation of certain body points with needles that relieves the pain of the related muscular area.
Researchers are exploring this treatment method more with the hope of establishing reliable findings of its effectiveness.
Purchase a Neck Harness
A neck harness is an essential workout tool for MMA, water polo, football, boxing, kickboxing, and anyone looking to strengthen their neck muscles and core stability.
This neck exercise tool helps increase your neck strength. It can be helpful after a car accident or when you have a concussion so that your neck muscles will grow back stronger.
Strengthen your neck and prevent cervical spine issues and injuries.
Helps you release tightness, stiffness, and tension.
The solution to fix your poor posture.
An essential tool for anyone looking to strengthen neck muscles and overall stability.
Builds up a bigger and stronger neck.
Improves the overall functional strength of your body.
How Can You Prevent Neck Tightness?
Once the neck tension has occurred, you can treat it easily with the abovementioned ways. But, if you want to avoid this condition from happening at all, you will need to make alterations in your life.
You can prevent neck tightness in the following ways:
- Always be mindful of your posture, either you are at work or home. Especially when you are sitting idly to relax, keep it right, and you should see changes in your neck and back health.
- Make changes in your sleeping environment. Adjust your form, pillow, and sleeping posture. Keep the pillow alleviation level comfortable enough for you not to put a strain on your neck.
- Do work out and keep your body active. One hundred fifty minutes of a moderate workout should be enough to keep your body in momentum.
- Decrease psychological distress in your life by opting for therapy or yoga and meditation. Many times, psychological distress causes neck stiffness. Therefore it can be treated that way.
- The neck tension could also be related to mouth joint issues or teeth grinding. In that case, seeing a doctor or dentist is a good idea.
- Don’t forget to take breaks during work or any other activity that involves prolonged immobility.
Neck tension can occur due to postural issues, injury, or many other reasons. Make sure to get treatment if it gets intolerable and does not go away. Do exercise, yoga, posture correction, and precautions to prevent it from ever happening again.