Your Cart

What Not to Do With a Sore Neck?

A sore neck can be uncomfortable and annoying to deal with. While rest and over-the-counter medications may help, there are also some things you should avoid doing when trying to manage a sore neck. Here’s an overview of what not to do if you’re dealing with neck pain.

Don’t Sleep in an Awkward Position

It may be tempting to prop yourself up with lots of pillows or sleep in a recliner when your neck is sore. However, sleeping in an awkward position can actually make neck pain worse. Try to sleep on your back or side, keeping your neck relatively straight. Use only one slim pillow under your head so your neck is supported but not bent at an odd angle. Avoid twisting your neck during the night as well.

Don’t Use Cold Treatments for Too Long

Applying something cold, like an ice pack, can help reduce inflammation and discomfort when you first injure your neck or start feeling pain. However, don’t use cold treatments for more than about 15 minutes at a time. Prolonged intense cold therapy could potentially damage skin and tissues. Let your skin warm back up before reapplying a cold compress.

Don’tIgnore Posture

Slumping over a computer or craning your neck to look at your phone will aggravate a sore neck. Be mindful of your posture at all times when dealing with a neck injury. Stand up straight, with your head directly over your shoulders (not jutting forward). When sitting, use a chair that allows you to keep good alignment. You may need to adjust the monitor or device so you can view it without straining your neck.

Don’t Pop Your Neck

You might be tempted to pop or crack your neck when it’s sore by twisting or turning it forcefully. This is not recommended, though, as it can actually increase pain and swelling. Neck manipulation should only be done by a trained professional like a chiropractor or physical therapist. Don’t try to pop your own neck while it’s injured.

Don’t Use Heat Too Soon

While cold packs help reduce inflammation from new injuries, heat is more beneficial for chronic neck stiffness or sore, tight muscles. However, you don’t want to apply heat too soon after an acute injury, as it can worsen swelling. Wait at least 48 hours after an injury before trying heat therapy. Use care not to overheat tissues. A warm towel or heating pad on a low setting for 15 minutes is sufficient.

Don’t Overdo Pain Medication

Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or NSAIDs can help take the edge off neck pain. Be cautious about overusing them, though. Talk to your doctor about dosage amounts and frequency. Too much medication over an extended period can lead to side effects. Try to get relief through other means as well, like moist heat pads or massage.

Don’t Perform Neck Strengthening Exercises Too Soon

Specific exercises can strengthen the muscles around your neck and help improve range of motion. However, you don’t want to start these exercises too soon when your neck is still acutely injured. Try simple range of motion exercises first without resistance or weights. Build up to isometric strengthening exercises only once the initial pain and swelling have subsided. Don’t push it too quickly.

Don’t Keep Still Too Long

It’s important to rest your neck when it’s injured by avoiding activities that increase pain. However, total inactivity can cause the neck muscles to tighten up. Do gentle range of motion exercises periodically throughout the day. Get up and walk around for a few minutes each hour. The goal is gentle movement without risking further strain or injury.

Don’t Carry Heavy Bags

Putting extra weight and strain on your neck can definitely make pain worse. Avoid carrying heavy bags or purses until your neck injury has fully healed. Also be mindful of activities at home that involve lifting, pulling or straining. Consider letting someone else temporarily take over chores like vacuuming, laundry or lifting children.

The bottom line is that having patience with neck injuries is key. Avoid anything that seems to exacerbate the pain. Adopt healthy posture habits, don’t over-treat with heat or cold, and allow your body time to rest and recover. Most sore necks will start to improve within a few days with proper self-care. See your doctor promptly if pain persists longer than a week or is severe. Following these tips can help you avoid delays in neck pain relief.