One of the most common workout injuries is cervical strain, which often happens when the neck is quickly whipped forward and back and the muscles in your necked get stretched. The condition is followed by an acute intense pain in the neck that can last for a longer period of time. In order to ease the pain and facilitate a faster recovery, there are some therapeutic techniques that you can use after the first few days, or the acute-phase of the injury.
That being said, neck pain can be a serious problem. If you have a severe neck pain or numbness/weakness in your arms/legs as a result of a fall, accident or an injury in the gym, you should seek medical help immediately. WebMD shows how you can recognize if your neck pain is more serious than just a strain.
The goal of the following techniques is to alleviate muscle tension by promoting blood circulation and improving the range of motion in the affected area. They can also be very beneficial in cases of extreme muscle soreness, stiffness and pain caused by bad posture. Fully restoring the health of your neck may take some patience but with a few attempts, you should be able to make some significant progress.
1. Epsom salt bath
Epsom salt is a naturally occurring pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate, well-known for its health benefits and beauty uses. It’s also very helpful when recovering from any kind of muscle pain and soreness. Simply add two cups of Epsom salt to your warm bath and soak in it for 20 minutes.
2. Manual cervical traction
Cervical traction is performed by applying gentle traction to the neck. This technique is used by physical therapists to help separate the bones, discs and joints in your neck, ultimately taking the pressure off of the nerves, allowing the compressed blood vessels to be released and helping your neck muscles stretch and relax.
Here’s how to do it:
- Lie on your back with a folded hand towel under the occiput (back side) of your head.
- Have someone to gently pull the towel towards them, holding the position for at least 3 minutes.
- Repeat 2-3 times per day.
In acupressure, a traditional Chinese therapy method that delivers great results in cases of muscle strain, the therapist applies pressure to specific points of the body to ease the pain. The acupressure point for a stiff neck is called Luo Zhen and it can be found on the back of your hand, right in between the two bones in the depression past the knuckles of the pointer and middle finger.
Massage this point on the opposite side of the body from the neck pain (if the left side of your neck hurts, you should massage the point on your right hand) by pressing into it with the tip of your finger with enough pressure to feel slight tenderness at the point. Make small circles with your pressing finger, maintaining the same amount of pressure. This should lessen the pain after a while. As you massage the acupressure point, rotate your head side to side to simultaneously stimulate an increase in the range of motion of your neck.
4. Peppermint oil
The menthol in peppermint oil has local anesthetic, analgesic and anti-spasmodic properties that can help soothe the tight neck muscles, relieve inflammation and significantly alleviate discomfort. Add a few drops of peppermint essential oil to two teaspoons of warm olive oil and gently massage your neck with the mixture. Repeat this 2-3 times per day or whenever you need to.