Have you ever woken up in the morning with neck pain after sleeping in a weird position?

Neck pain is a common complaint that many people experience and can last a long time. The neck is composed of 7 cervical vertebrae, which connect the skull to the rest of the body. There are various muscles that connect in this region as well. Irritation to any structures in this region, such as the joints or muscles, can lead to pain in the neck, and in some cases can cause numbness and tingling into the arms, hands, and fingers.

Staying in one position for too long can cause irritation to any part of the body, particularly the neck if sleeping in a position which puts stress on it. This concept is similar to posture; being in ANY position for too long will cause discomfort (even the textbook  “proper” posture). The body was designed to move and that is why sometimes sleep can be difficult for some people.

There are multiple spinal mobility exercises with emphasis on the cervical spine that one can do to help get some movement to a tight neck.  The exercises in the video below consist of: neck rotations, upper trap stretch, and cervical retractions. These three exercises can be performed anywhere, including on your bed while getting ready to sleep. These movements are gentle exercises that promote relaxation and relieve tension. Similarly, these exercises can be performed in the morning in bed if you feel tightness when you wake up.

Disclaimer: this is not medical advice. If you have neck pain, you should seek out professional medical advice in person.

Post written by:

Daniel Oberton, PT, DPT