To start, before we can tell if we truly have a "stiff neck". We need to know exactly what it is. A stiff neck is a neck that feels tight or sore and has some loss of one normal motion. We often can get a stiff neck from being in one position too long or straining the neck in some fashion. Most often someone may sleep in an awkward position or work in a certain position for an extended period of time that can cause pressure on a nerve.
Nerves in the neck spine supply our muscles. If we have pressure on those nerves the muscles may get irritated, inflammed or not in balance. This in turn can cause neck pain and/or neck stiffness. Someone who has neck spine or neck posture that is out of alignment will be the most common person to have recurrent or chronic stiff neck. Add to this, the fact that if the person has an occupation where they continually put strain on the neck or someone with a pillow they are sleeping on that does not have good support. Also sleeping on your stomach can cause major neck stiffness or pain. Why is sleeping on your stomach a problem? To breathe we have to turn our head 90 degrees to the left or to the right. As we age, this is not only difficult but not good for extended periods of time when you are sleeping. Our posture gives us insight into what our spine may look like. So if your sleeping posture is horrible for 6-8 hours every night, your body starts getting trained to shift to an unhealthy, abnormal posture or spinal alignment. And once out of alignment we will more easily get the symptoms of neck pain and stiffness. To correct neck alignment and reduce bad posture the best things to do are as follows:
Always be aware of your posture- if you are always in one position, move around. If you are constantly walking with your head down- look up more. If you have an uncomfortable work station- set it up to be more ergonomically efficient.
See a chiropractor or a physical therapist. Both professionals can give you good postural exercises. Doctors of chiropractic can also adjust or manipulate the spine to help restore neck alignment.
All of the above listed solutions are usually quick and easy to do and will pay off in the long run. Good neck posture and spinal alignment will reduce the incidence of stiff necks. If you or someone you know is suffering from severe neck pain or neck stiffness currently or has chronic neck issues I would also recommnend using heat to loosen the muscles. Biofreeze is a great natural neck pain relief gel which helps tremendously. Apply to your stiff and sore muscles for 3-5 minutes. Apply ice for 10 minutes afterward. Use ice if there is any inflammation in the neck area.If this is a chronic neck pain issue, heat may also help. The Trisectional Ice Pack is a perfect ice pack for around your neck and upper back. It includes straps that you can securely hold it in place. Arc4life has all your neck pain relief products to give you relief of neck pain, so that it is no longer a pain in the neck !