What to do when you wake up with a kink in your neck? Total Performance Physical Therapy | 215.997.9898

We’ve all been there.  We’ve woken up with a pain in the neck.   We may have slept wrong, fell asleep on the couch, fell asleep in a weird position and we wake up and it is extremely painful or you cannot move your neck and the usually the first feeling is panic.

There\’s a couple of things that could have gone wrong during the night.  It does take somebody actually looking at your neck to be able to diagnose what exactly happened.  However, there are certain things that you can do to not be walking around all day and having to rotate your shoulders.

The first thing that you want to do is relax.  I know that sounds weird, but with your neck, headaches or shoulder pain, it is exacerbated by shrugging your shoulders.  This elevating of your shoulders can cause neck and shoulder pain and the worst part is most people don’t even know that they are doing it.  Shoulders become elevated over stress and anger and a number of different reasons but no matter what the reason they the fact that they are raised for a long time can cause pain.

If you wake up and you can’t turn your head, or look up or down the first thing you want to do is to take a deep breath, roll your shoulders, up, back and drop them down.  This may not cause you to be able to move your head any easier but it is the first step in order to be able to move your neck easily again.

If you are having trouble lowering your shoulders you need to take deep breaths and relax.  If you find that you are having a hard time relaxing or you find that when you relax your shoulders they go right back to the same position, then taking long deep breaths will help you to relax.

The next thing to do is to take a hot shower because the heat is going to allow increased blood flow to the muscles.  And if the muscles have increased blood flow, they will start to relax.  You can also use a hot pack instead of a hot shower, but the hot shower is preferred because it will allow you to gently move your neck while applying heat.

If you use a hot pack, you want to put the hot pack on your neck when you are laying down.  You don’t want to drape It over your neck when you are sitting up because this will cause you to shrug your shoulders.

Once in the hot shower with the water running down, start with your deep breathing again.  Take 10 to 20 breaths, nice and easy.  You can take more just get yourself to relax.

After the deep breathing you want to start to gently move your head from side to side.  Now this may hurt.  You want to move just in a gentle range of motion.  Just a little bit of movement.  Turn your head side to side.  Try to stay in a pain free range of motion. Even if that you move just a very small bit.  Each time you can try to go further but do not jam your neck into a range of motion that is painful, gently ease into it.  Check out the video below to see what exactly to do.

For example, if you can\’t turn your head to the right, you want to move your head to the left, nice and easy as far as it\’ll go, and then gently turn your head to the right. You\’re going to feel a little bit of resistance before you feel pain.  When you start to feel the resistance stop and go the other direction.  Gently continue to do this until you start to move your head with less pain.

Once you have gone from side to side and loosened it up, then start to move your head up and down.  Do the same thing.  Gently move in the direction that doesn’t hurt first until you feel some resistance.  Then move it into the opposite direction.

Finally once you have loosened up the up and down motions, you want to start by doing small circles in one direction.  Now if these prove too painful, make sure they are just a tiny circle.  If you are unable to even do a tiny circle without pain then skip the step with the circles.  But do 10 circles in one direction and then 10 circles in the other direction.

One of the things that you should not do is reach for a soft collar (unless you have been in an accident and it was recently prescribed by a doctor) nor should you stop moving your neck.  You wind up with more problems if you do not move your neck and hold it still for a few days.  The best thing when wake up with a stiff neck is to move it even though most of the time that is the last thing you want to do.

If you are experiencing neck pain in North Wales, PA or neck pain in Norristown, PA or neck pain in Hatfield PA then call 215-997-9898 to schedule your free consultation with a doctor of physical therapy.


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