You had a good night’s sleep, and just when you are about to start your day, you wake up with a throbbing pain in your neck. You can’t move it around, and when somebody calls you, you need to move your whole body to face that direction. Any sudden twist is sure to cause immense pain. There’s no doubt about it; you have what is called a stiff neck.
A stiff neck is the soreness and stiffness felt in the areas surrounding the neck. This is usually first felt in the morning upon waking up. Waking up in the morning with a stiff neck is not only painful but is also a sure way to ruin your day and foul your mood. Most of the time, people are left wondering what the causes of stiff neck in morning are, and the actual reason can range from being trivial to being serious. Most people dismiss it as an awkward positioning during sleep, and most of the time, they are right, but it could also have other causes. Knowing the causes of stiff neck in morning can help prevent or at least mitigate the pain it can cause you.
NB! Exercise videos for stiff neck in the morning are at the bottom of the post.
Causes of Stiff Neck in Morning
Awkward sleeping position
There’s a reason why people often attribute awkward sleeping position as one of the main causes of stiff neck in morning; that’s because it often is. If you sleep on a pillow that raises your head too high, there’s a high chance that you will wake up with a stiff neck. Fortunately, this type of stiff neck fades within a day and should not be a bother the next day.
Emotional stress and tension
While some or most of the common causes of stiff necks in morning are physical, emotional stress can also cause stiff necks. Work, bills, stressful relationships can all contribute to emotional stress and tension, and being under constant stress can cause muscle spasms in your neck, which will make the muscles tense up and restrict your neck from moving freely.
A sudden high impact movement might cause injury to your neck. A bad fall, intense sport collision, or car accidents can cause this. The saying “it’s going to hurt in the morning” is popular because it’s true, and this can be one of the causes of stiff necks in morning. For this type of stiff neck, rest is really needed. If the pain persists or becomes unbearable, seek out the help of a physical therapist.
Over time, the joints in the knees, hip, and neck degenerate and become weak, causing immense pain and discomfort. This is known as osteoarthritis and is common among older people. When the joint becomes damaged, rheumatoid arthritis sets in.
Meningitis and other diseases
The causes of stiff neck in mornings can sometimes be the symptoms for a more serious disease like meningitis. The meninges are protective membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord, and when these become enflamed, the result is meningitis. This inflammation is what causes the neck muscles to stiffen and become rigid.
Aside from Meningitis, other diseases like fibromyalgia and viral infection can cause stiff necks.
How to Prevent and Cure Stiff Neck in Morning
Correct your sleeping posture
The way you sleep at night will have a tremendous impact on how you wake up in the morning. In order for you to avoid waking up with a stiff neck, make sure that your pillow is not too thick and not too stiff. Having a soft pillow that contours to your head, shoulders, and back like a memory pillow will make sure that your neck is supported.
Eating a well-balanced meal is extremely important to make sure that your muscles are healthy and that any damage is repaired right away. Making sure that you get ample servings of Vitamin C, protein, carbohydrates, and other essential minerals will help prevent you from getting stiff necks. By having a complete dosage of vitamins and minerals, the soreness from stiff necks can ease faster.
Exercise is an excellent yet cheap way to improve the health of your muscles. Exercise will help your muscles to withstand pain and delay the eventual effects of wear and tear. Exercise also strengthens your muscles, which will improve mobility and movement. Yoga and stretching exercises are some things that you can do to exercise your muscles. This will prevent most of the causes of stiff necks in morning.
Here are two relaxation and self massage exercises that help to relieve stiff neck in the morning.
Video: An exercise for a stiff neck in the morning.
Video: Relieve muscle tension on the sides of the neck.
Learn more: Top 6 Health Benefits Of Self Massage
In order to not aggravate the soreness and the pain, rest is a must. Sleep (but in proper posture) will repair damage to muscles and can ease the pain that you are feeling. Avoid doing any intense physical work and just lay in bed until the pain subsides. Continuing with rigorous physical activities can worsen it and may even cause chronic stiff necks.
This may seem like an easy thing to do, but with the hectic schedule most people have nowadays, it can be surprising how little time people have to relax. A day at the spa can often relieve tensed muscles and relax your mind. A nice, long, hot bath can do wonders not only to relax your muscles but also to calm you down.
Consult your doctor
Make sure that you consult your doctor about your stiff neck, especially if it is coupled with other symptoms for other diseases. Doctors can not only detect possible diseases, but they can give you preventive or curative medication for your stiff neck. For chronic stiff necks, it would be best to visit a chiropractor to look at possible long-term solutions.
Stiff necks are painful and extremely inconvenient. While some ease over time, prolonged stiff necks are sometimes symptoms for other diseases. The causes of stiff necks in morning can be indicators of something else, so it is always best to seek medical care if the pain becomes too intense or prolonged. Immediate check up and cure can prevent it from worsening, and may lead to the early detection of a possibly more serious condition.
Photo: Aidan Jones