Home Remedies and Stretches for Neck and Shoulder Pain
Relieve Neck and Shoulder Pain with Natural Remedies
Many of us suffer from shoulder and neck pain and know all to well how they can get in the way of performing simple tasks and such the joy out of everyday life. Happily home remedies, stretches, and healthy habits can provide considerable relief. Here are some of the natural remedies that can make a big difference.
Home Remedies for Neck and Shoulder Pain: Heat, Cold, and Electrotherapy
You’ve probably heard that ice or cold packs, heating pads, and electrotherapy can help neck and shoulder pain. What may have left you scratching your head, though, is the question of which one will provide the most relief in your particular case.
For most sufferers from neck and shoulder pain, the best therapy depends on how long they’ve had to endure the pain.
If you’ve had the pain for six weeks or less, perhaps as the result of a recent injury, you’re apt to get the most benefit from cold sprays, cold gels, and ice packs to reduce inflammation and relieve discomfort.
During the sixth week or after, use hot towels, warm baths, warm baths with Epsom salts, whirlpools, saunas, heating packs, and/or heating pads. These help your stubbornly persistent neck and shoulder pain by promoting blood flow and relaxing tight muscles. Just be sure your form of heat therapy isn’t too hot.
Electrotherapy is actually a good therapy for addressing both short- and long-term neck and shoulder pain. Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) relieves your pain by disrupting pain signals in your nervous system. Just be sure not to position the TENS pads too close to your head, the sides of your neck, or your spine. The manufacturer’s instructions will tell you how to place them properly.
Stretches and Exercises for Neck and Shoulder Pain
These exercises should both relieve pain and strengthen muscles to make future injury less likely. They shouldn’t hurt, so if they do, discontinue them and talk to a healthcare professional.
Three Stretches for Neck Pain
- While keeping your shoulders straight, rotate your head to one side and hold for 30 to 45 seconds. Slowly move it back so you’re looking straight ahead again, then repeat the stretch on the opposite side.
- Tilt your head so your ear is approaching your shoulder and when you get it as close as it will go, hold the position for 30 to 45 seconds. Slowly lift your head upright again, then repeat the stretch on the other side.
- While keeping your shoulders straight, lower your chin to your chest and hold for 30 to 45 seconds. Then slowly lift your head to its natural position.
The neck stretches provide a good warm-up for the following strengthening exercises to prevent future injury and the neck pain it can bring.
Two Strengthening Exercises for Neck Pain
- Do push-ups against the wall. Your feet should be shoulder-width, your elbows straight, and your neck in a neutral position. Do one or two sets, 10 reps to a set, once or twice per day.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together but not too hard. They should still feel comfortable. Hold for five seconds before releasing. Do this 10 times two times daily.
Two Stretches for Shoulder Pain
- Stand up and bend your upper back slightly. Roll your shoulders up, back, and down. Try to make the motion as fluid as you can. After 10 reps, change direction. (In other words, roll your shoulders forward 10 times.)
- Keeping your chin parallel to the floor, shift it forward. Then pull it back, tucking just a little. You can do this stretch up to 10 times an hour.
Two Strengthening Exercises to Combat Shoulder Pain
These exercises share the advantage that you can do them with no or minimal equipment.
- Lie on your stomach. Your arms should be at your sides, and you can use a pillow under your forehead if desired. Pull your shoulder blades together and down toward your feet. Do this gently. Relax your shoulders when the get about halfway down for about 10 seconds. Release your shoulders. Do 10 reps.
- For this exercise, you’ll need a water bottle (1/5 liters is a good size) that’s about three quarters full. Standing up straight and keeping your arm straight, hold the bottle out in front of you for half a minute to a minute. Do the exercise three times with each arm.
Healthy Posture to Fight Neck and Shoulder Pain
Finally, it pays to be aware that maintain good posture can do a lot to eliminate neck and shoulder pain. You need to pay attention to both your standing posture and your sitting posture.
- Check your standing posture by standing with your head, shoulder blades, and bottom against a wall. Your heels should be two to four inches away from the wall. If it your hand fits easy but not too loosely when you reach to touch the wall with the palm of your hand behind the curve of your back, your standing posture is good. If the fit is loose, tighten your abdominal muscles. If it’s too snug, arch your back. Now you’re standing as you should stand.
- Here’s how to maintain proper sitting posture. Naturally, this is especially important if you sit a lot, perhaps because you have a desk job. Your thighs and hips should be parallel to the floor, and you shouldn’t cross your legs. Your ankles need to be in front of your knees, and you should keep your feet flat on the floor. Relax your shoulders. You don’t want them pulled back or rounded. Your elbows should be bent at more or less a right angle and your elbows close to your sides. You need a properly padded seat to support your hips and thighs, and you also want your whole back to touch the back of the chair. If necessary, you can use a back pillow to make this happen. Finally, remember to take breaks from sitting. Get up and walk around a little. Do some stretches.
These simple methods can go a long way toward helping to relieve your neck and shoulder pain.