Everyone experiences neck and shoulder pain from time to time. Stress, lack of exercise, and poor posture add up, leaving you with stiff and tense muscles. Fortunately, there are things at home you can do to reduce your discomfort. Check out this list of ten easy things to help reduce neck and shoulder pain.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is your body’s way of letting you know there is a problem. It signals your immune system to start fighting an infection or heal an injury. The beginning of pain is always inflammation. It doesn’t matter if your pain is sharp, aching, dull, burning, stabbing, or tingling, everything pain comes from inflammation.
The best way to reduce neck and shoulder pain is to find out:
- What is causing the injury to your neck and shoulders?
- How to reduce the inflammation associated with that injury
10 best ways to decrease neck and shoulder pain at home
1 – Yoga
Yoga emphasizes relaxation techniques based on mind-body training. You can help relieve stress and tension in your muscles through stretching and strengthening poses. Practicing yoga is a great way to lessen existing neck pain and relieve stress on your mind so you can relax.
3 – Stretching exercises
Like yoga, stretching helps relieve stiffness and pain in the muscles of the neck and shoulders. Stretching takes a few minutes, but the benefits will last for hours. Here are three basic stretches you can do at home. Try these stretches a few times a day to maximize the benefits.
Shoulder and neck rolls
Sit on the floor with your hands on your knees. Make sure you are sitting with your back straight and your shoulders relaxed. Lower your chin to your chest, then gently turn your head to the right until your ear touches your shoulder. Then put one hand over your head and gently stretch it out. Then, with the other hand, gently push the shoulder in the other direction.
Stand up straight and gently place your arm across your body until there is a gentle stretch. Use your other arm to support this arm. Hold for a minute, take a deep breath, and exhale. Then switch arms and do the same.
Forward bending stretch
Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you. Slowly lean forward and bend your body towards your legs until you can hold your heels in the palm of your hand. Your chest should touch your knees or at least get quite close. Gently lower your chin so that it is close to your chest. Count to three and slowly return to your original position.
3 – Rest
Rest presents a unique challenge for many people. It’s hard to stop in the middle of your busy schedule to rest. However, rest can be a simple but effective way to relieve neck and shoulder pain.
If the pain in the neck and shoulders is excruciating, try total bed rest for a day or two. Make sure to maintain the natural curve of your twist while in bed with your neck in a comfortable position. If you are on your back, put a pillow under your knees to reduce stress on your back. Don’t watch TV or read with your head up, instead sit or rest on several pillows so your shoulders and neck feel relaxed.
If you can’t afford the time for complete bed rest, try taking a break each afternoon from your work and other activities for a 20-minute break time. You can sit on a couch with your feet supported or lie down in bed, whichever works best for relaxing your neck and shoulders. Don’t answer your phone or look at emails. Just focus on relaxing. If it helps, listen to some quiet music or have a cup of herbal tea. Before you know it, you will feel more relaxed and in less pain.
4 – Ice
Applying ice to the shoulder and neck can help relieve pain. Try to apply ice to these areas for 20 minutes every few hours for the first few days of the injury. The ice will relieve pain and help the muscles around the area relax to reduce tension.
5 – Heat
Like ice, heat is an effective natural pain reliever. Heat stimulates blood flow and relaxes tight muscles. Try using these different heat therapies for several weeks to see if they work for relieving neck and shoulder pain.
- Warm towel wrapped around your neck and shoulders (make sure it’s not too hot)
- Heating pad (place on painful area for 20 ”every hour)
- Sauna or Jacuzzi (stay in the warm place for at least 20 minutes)
- Warm Epsom Salt Bath (soak in bathtub for 15-20 minutes)
6 – Anti-inflammatory diet
If you feel like you are always struggling with neck and shoulder pain, you may have an inflammatory problem. Food is a powerful anti-inflammatory remedy. Studies show that eating foods like those found in a Mediterranean diet can ease the pain of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. Eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and oily fish is healthier than eating processed foods and refined grains. Even a small change in your diet helps reduce inflammation.
An anti-inflammatory diet relaxes your immune system response, giving your body a break from inflammation. There are some foods that increase inflammation in your body.
Inflammatory foods to avoid:
- Sodas and sugary drinks (even some sodas have sugar)
- Fried food
- Refined carbohydrates such as white rice and bread and baked goods
- Red meat and processed meat
- Shortening, shortening and margarine
- Gluten causes inflammation in some people
Anti-inflammatory foods to add to your diet:
- Tomatoes: These are nightshade plants but they do not cause inflammation.
- Extra virgin olive oil – make sure you buy a good quality olive oil
- Fatty fish: salmon, mackerel, sardines
- Nuts and seeds
- Oatmeal – make sure it’s raw
- Green Tea
- Dark chocolate
- Red beets
- Black beans
Did you know that staying hydrated prevents inflammation? Drinking lots of water builds up synovial fluid, or sometimes called joint fluid, between the joints. Joint fluid cushions the ends of the bones so there is less friction. Proper hydration reduces inflammation by keeping the shock-absorbing cartilage working properly.
8 – Massage
Get a massage It is exactly what the doctor ordered for sore muscles around the neck and shoulders. The massage consists of rubbing, pressing and manipulating the muscles, tendons and ligaments. There are different types of massages, including
- Swedish Massage: This gentle massage uses longer kneading motions and deep circular motions to relax.
- Deep massage: This technique is slower and more forceful to reach the deepest layers of your muscles and tissues.
- Sports massage – Similar to Swedish massage, but used for people who play sports to treat and prevent injuries.
- Trigger point massage: This type of massage works on tight muscle fibers that build up in muscles in overworked or injured areas.
Always go to a trained masseur. It can end in more pain if the person is not trained properly. Schedule a massage once a week until pain-free, then continue with maintenance massages to prevent pain from returning.
9 – Correct your posture
Your mom knew best when she told you to stand up. Correct posture rectifies neck and muscle pain. Bending over or leaning forward puts undue pressure on the neck and shoulders. Look in the mirror to see if you are standing correctly. You will be surprised how easy it is to develop bad posture habits. Ask your family or a friend to tell you when to slouch or ask your mom, she will tell you.
10 – Limit computer screen time
Get up and walk around your house for a few minutes. Do a couple of stretches or go for a brisk walk around the block. Breaking computer time gives your muscles a break so they can rest and recover. You may need to change your workspace to find a new desk or chair. Standing desks have gained popularity because they help relieve shoulder and neck pain, and are healthier for you than sitting all day. Ergonomic desk chairs are designed to reduce stress on the neck or shoulders.
So what if you try to improve your neck and shoulder pain at home with little improvement? Here are two next steps.
See a chiropractor
Chiropractors manipulate your back so that your spine is correctly aligned. These manipulations stimulate blood flow and release tension in your muscles and nerve areas. Once your spine is in alignment, your body function and spinal movement improve. A trained chiropractor can find ways to adjust the neck and shoulders to relieve pain and tension in those areas.
A physical therapist It will work to improve areas of weakness or stiffness around your neck and shoulders that could be causing pain. They will treat the areas with low-impact exercises, strengthening exercises, and pain relief exercises. They usually give you homework: exercises and stretching to do at home. The strength of physical therapists is to get to the source of your pain.
Neck and shoulder pain are distractions that interrupt your life. It is best to find natural home remedies to prevent and treat neck and shoulder pain. Hopefully, these 10 tips will help decrease your neck and shoulder pain to help you get back to feeling better and healthier.