How to Relieve a Stiff Neck & Shoulder Blade

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Oh, those computers. It’s sometimes hard to turn them off and just walk away. You were too engrossed to take a break, and now your neck is sore and stiff with the pain and stiffness radiating into your shoulder blades. It happens to most everyone at some point. Especially when the weather is cold, or the air conditioner is adjusted to a low setting. Or, even when you sit in one position for too long. So if you’re suffering from a stiff neck and shoulder blade pain, you can find much relief right at home. With a little TLC, you’ll be back to normal and ready for another computer session.

How to Relieve a Stiff Neck & Shoulder Blade
(Roman Rozenblyum/Demand Media)

Things You'll Need

  • Towel
  • Bowl
  • Steaming hot water
  • Dish gloves
  • Massage oil
  • OTC pain pills (optional)

Heat water to boiling in a tea kettle. Place a medium-sized towel in a large metal or ceramic bowl and pour enough hot water onto it to soak.

Roman Rozenblyum/Demand Media

Remove any clothing above the waist. Do not sit or stand in a drafty area. Wearing insulated dish gloves, wring out the towel. Open it and apply to the neck and shoulders for a few minutes until the heat dissipates. Repeat several times wringing out the towel and applying it to the skin. This should help relax the neck and shoulder muscles.

Roman Rozenblyum/Demand Media

Apply a small amount of massage oil to the neck and shoulder areas. Rub the oil into the skin. If you cannot reach all the affected areas, you may need to have someone assist you. Continue to massage the areas until the muscles feel relaxed. Wipe off any excess oil with the towel and cover up with warm, comfortable clothing, preferably a bathrobe.

Roman Rozenblyum/Demand Media

Sit in a straight-backed chair with feet on the floor and looking forward. Gently tilt the neck side to side with slow, easy stretches. Do not proceed further than feels comfortable. Hold for a count of 10 and repeat 10 times.

Roman Rozenblyum/Demand Media

Sit tall and straight in the chair and with one of the fingertips of one hand placed onto your chin. With head facing forward, gently press the fingers to move the chin back toward the neck. Keep the head straight and do not tilt it. Hold for a count of 10 and repeat 10 times.

Roman Rozenblyum/Demand Media

Sit in the chair, tall and facing forward, and shrug your shoulders. Lift only the shoulders as high as feels comfortable, and then back into a relaxed position. Hold in the upward position for a count of 10, and repeat 10 times.

Roman Rozenblyum/Demand Media

Do these exercises daily, and continue the heat and massage as needed. If pain does not subside, consider temporarily taking over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen or Tylenol.

Roman Rozenblyum/Demand Media

Tips & Warnings

  • Take frequent stretch breaks and change your sitting position often when working on a computer.
  • Boiling water may cause scalding.


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