3 Simple Ways to Heal a Stiff, Sore, or Injured Neck
In a previous piece, Preventing Common BJJ and CrossFit Injuries, along with my friend Sam Kressin of Embodied Strength, I discussed the most common injuries in these two sports - cervical strain and low back injuries.
Now, we are going to focus just on cervical strain and give you some simple ways you can help yourself heal.
Cervical Strain or Sprain
In the case of a cervical strain/sprain, there are a number of things that can be done to facilitate healing. As a licensed acupuncturist I have been trained in numerous treatments and protocols to help this condition, but I wanted to pick techniques that wouldn’t require any special knowledge or training to do. These three therapeutic techniques are intended to be used after the acute-phase of the injury, which is the first four days after the incident.
Remember that after a neck strain/sprain, the muscles in the neck will often become tight, guarding the affected area and limiting motion and mobility. Anything that can be done to safely alleviate muscle tension, improve range of motion, and promote blood circulation to the affected area, is going to help the healing process.
A. Manual Cervical Traction
Applying gentle traction to the neck can often ease and elongate tight muscles, allowing pinched nerves or compressed blood vessels to be released.
Tight muscles will constrict and compress everything around them. The idea behind using traction is to create more space and alleviate pressure by improving the blood supply to the neck muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the affected area.
One of the simplest ways to do this is to:
- Lie down on your back and place a folded (lengthwise) hand towel under the occiput of your head. This is the rear part of your skull that rounds out away from your neck.
- Have a friend gently pull the towel straight towards them. Try to get them to hold the position for at least 3 minutes.
- Repeat the exercise 2-3 times per-day or until you feel some relief. I have seen excellent results in my own clinic with as little as a few minutes a day.
Soaking in Epsom Salt can be very helpful for the release of muscle aches and pain. It is informative to remember the actual name of Epsom Salt is Magnesium Sulfate. Among magnesium’s many functions is it will reduce the rate of calcium binding after a muscle contracts as it competes for the same binding sites as calcium, which contracts a muscle.
Something as simple as an Epsom Salt bath can be of great benefit in relaxing a tight muscle.
It is easily done by
- Adding 2 cups of Epsom Salt to a warm bath full of water.
- Soak your neck in the bath for 15 - 20 minutes, allowing the Magnesium to be absorbed through your skin.
Continue to page two for a highly effective accupressure point technique.