Even when you’re doing it the right way, working out can mean sore muscles, and the occasional accidental strain. Muscle pain is never fun no matter what part of your body is manifesting the injury. But the one spot that can start to ache and really make your day unbearable is definitely neck pain.
Neck pain limits your range of motion, and can make even the slightest movements like bending down suddenly become super painful. Plus, trying to twist and turn into a comfortable sleeping position with a sore neck means you’re probably losing out on some shut eye.
But before you pop your third asprin of the day, it’s worth exploring the natural ways to relieve pain in this tender area. We asked a few experts in the space to share their best tips and advice for alleviating that pain in the neck. Read on for what their best natural remedies for neck pain.
Watch your posture
Whether you’re already in pain or you’re looking to take preventative measures, physical therapist Paige Daly says that a pain-free neck starts with practicing proper posture. “Always be aware of your posture, whether you are sitting at a computer or performing everyday activities,” she says. “This will allow you to relax tense shoulders and adjust a forward head. Pinching your shoulder blades back together and down throughout the day can address the tense shoulders. Gently tucking the chin down into the neck, as if you are trying to make a double chin will help address forward head posture. Looking from the side, proper posture can be achieved by imagining a straight line running from the ceiling down to the floor. This line should run from your ear, to mid-shoulder, to hip, knee and down through the ankle.”
Take an epsom salt bath
If you’re dealing with neck pain, massage therapist Bliss Wood says that a nice long soak can make all the difference. “Another remedy that can be done at home are epsom salt baths,” she suggests. “The epsom salts help to extract toxins in the muscles, which help them to relax — which in turn allows the boney structure not to be pulled out of alignment, which is a major cause of neck pain.”
Consider holistic treatment options
According to Dr. Gabrielle Francis, consistent neck pain is a sign that you need to seek out a regular method of treating the area. “Schedule weekly acupuncture and massage sessions as well as a chiropractic evaluation and manipulation of the neck,” she suggests. “Also, evaluate the environment you sleep and work in to see if there’s room for improvement. “Use a cervical neck pillow at night, says Dr Tk, and be sure to get an ergonomics evaluation of your workstation to ensure proper posture and position.”
Use the power of heat
For temporary neck pain relief, Daly says a combination of heat and strategic stretching can make a world of difference. “Using a hot pack, taking a hot shower, and stretching your neck will decrease tension,” she says. “You can stretch your neck by bringing your ear down to your shoulder. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds, then switch to the other shoulder. Perform this three times on each side.”
You are what you eat — and if you think this has nothing to do with that neck pain you’ve been experiencing, think again! Dr. Francis recommends eating a diet that keeps your body well nourished and is also packed with anti inflammatories. “Eat magnesium-rich foods, such as dark chocolate, dark leafy greens, nuts and legumes as well as those high in omega-3s,” she says, “like flaxseed oil, wild fish, and chia seeds. Decrease inflammatory foods like sugar, alcohol, white flour and milk—and be sure to drink 8–10 glasses of water daily.”
Use a RAD roller
You’ve probably used a foam roller to help relieve other sore muscles on your body (and if you haven’t, you should try foam rolling!). The RAD roller is a smaller version with the same idea behind it — but because of it’s size, you’re able to use it to get to those tinier spots like the neck. “It’s one of the most effective self myofascial release tools on the market for alleviating neck pain,” says Dr. Emily Splichal. The RAD Roller was actually designed to match the anatomy of the spine. When placed behind the neck and gentle pressure is applied the muscles along the neck are released alleviating tension in the neck.”