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How to Relieve Stiff Neck: 5 Things You Can Do at Home

How to Relieve Stiff Neck: 5 Things You Can Do at Home

Knowing how to relieve stiff neck can give you a lot of relief. This is because not only is having a stiff neck annoying and painful, it can also interfere with your daily activities.

How to Relieve Stiff Neck

A stiff neck happens when the muscles in your neck get strained or sprained. This can happen because of bad posture or strenuous activity that puts a lot of strain on your neck muscle.

Having a stiff neck usually doesn’t happen immediately. It can appear shortly after you wake up, or a few hours after your muscles were strained.

Here’s what to do and others tips on how to relieve stiff neck.

1. Stretching

One of the simplest remedies to relieve stiff neck is to do some stretching. Stretching can help relieve the pain in your neck muscles, and also helps keep your muscles strong and flexible.

Be sure to avoid sudden movements when stretching a stiff neck, as this can cause more pain and injury. Make sure to do it slow, and don’t force it if your neck hurts.

It’s also generally a good idea to do some stretching on your neck every few hours, especially if you haven’t moved around in a while. This helps reduce the strain on your neck and can help prevent stiff neck in the future.

7 Key Stretches to Master

2. Changing your sleeping position

Your body’s posture when you’re lying down is just as important as your posture when you’re sitting down or standing up. This is because certain sleeping positions can cause strain on your neck, and cause you to have a stiff neck when you wake up.

Additionally, if you went to sleep with a stiff neck, having a bad sleeping position can make things worse.

Ideally, you would want to sleep on your back or on your side. Sleeping on your stomach might feel comfortable, but this can put a lot of strain on your neck, which can cause a stiff neck.

It’s also a good idea to not use too many pillows when you sleep. This is because having too many pillows can put your neck at an unnatural angle.

Another tip on how to relieve stiff neck – use only one pillow, or even no pillows at all to help keep your neck straight.

3. Use a cold compress or a warm compress

Using a cold compress or a warm compress can also help relieve pain caused by a stiff neck. A general rule is that a cold compress helps with acute pain, inflammation, and swelling, while a hot compress helps with muscle pain and strain.

You would want to use a cold compress, to begin with, as this helps reduce inflammation and numb the initial pain caused by a stiff neck.

Make sure to not apply the cold compress directly to your skin. It would be best to wrap it in a towel or cloth to prevent frostbite.

If it still hurts after a day or two, you can swap out your cold compress for a warm compress. This can help relieve any lingering pain, and also helps to relax your strained muscles.

Just like the cold compress, be sure to wrap your hot compress with a towel or cloth to avoid injury. Try this tip as it’s one of the best ways on how to relieve stiff neck.

4. Practice good posture

When it comes to how to relieve stiff neck, it’s important to maintain good posture. This is because having a bad posture not only makes a stiff neck hurt worse, it is also one of the possible causes.

To have good posture, keep your back straight, your shoulders back, your stomach in, and pull your chest up. Make sure to do this when you’re standing up or sitting down.

This can help avoid additional pain in your neck, and also prevents a stiff neck from happening in the future.

Neck Pain Causes And Remedies: What You Need To Know

5. Over-the-counter medication

Lastly, one of the ways on how to relieve stiff neck quickly is by taking over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen or paracetamol that can help with a stiff neck.

While these are not as strong as other painkillers, taking these can help ease the pain if you’re really having a hard time with your stiff neck.

As much as possible, only take medication when necessary, and don’t take more than 4 doses in 24 hours.

If your pain or discomfort persists, consult your doctor.

Learn more about Musculoskeletal Pain here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Neck pain – Diagnosis and treatment – Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/neck-pain/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20375587, Accessed February 4, 2021

Do You Have a Stiff Neck? Try These Simple Remedies – Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/do-you-have-a-stiff-neck-try-these-simple-remedies/, Accessed February 4, 2021

6 ways to ease neck pain – Harvard Health, https://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/6-ways-to-ease-neck-pain, Accessed February 4, 2021

How to soothe a sore neck – Harvard Health, https://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/how-to-soothe-a-sore-neck, Accessed February 4, 2021

The Best Remedies for a Stiff Neck | UPMC HealthBeat, https://share.upmc.com/2020/01/remedies-for-a-stiff-neck/?vwo=header_redesign, Accessed February 4, 2021

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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated Jun 01
Medically reviewed by January Velasco, M.D.