You wake up having gotten a good night’s sleep. You stretch a bit, rub your eyes, sit up—and immediately feel an uncomfortable feeling in your neck. 

It’s what we call a “crick” in the neck, and it happens for a variety of reasons, one of the most common being sleeping in an incorrect position. This could mean you were turned in an incorrect way, you moved fast in your sleep or you moved off your pillow. It also could be a sign that your pillow isn’t supportive enough. 

You can get a crick in your neck from injuries, such as whiplash or underlying conditions. But chances are you just slept wrong, and luckily, there are five easy steps you can follow to find relief fast. 

1. Take It Slow

When you realize you have a crick in your neck, it’s important to take it slow at first. You’ll want to identify how stiff or uncomfortable your neck feels to help you make a decision on what you want to do. 

Try gently rolling your neck from one side to the other, and see how that feels. Also, nod up and down slowly to see if your movement is hindered there as well. 

Don’t try to crack your neck or forcefully stretch it with your hands. Not only can that be painful, but that can make it feel worse. 

2. Try Heat

The first thing you can try is to apply some sort of heat to your neck over where the crick is. The heat will help relieve muscle spasms if that’s the cause of the crick in your neck. 

A heating pad would be a good option, or if you don’t have one, you can get a washcloth hot and lay it on your neck. Try to make sure you’re in a relaxed position so the heat can do its job. 

Alternate doing 10 minutes on and 10 minutes off. 

3. Try Ice

If the heat doesn’t do the job, you can try icing the area. An ice pack or even a frozen vegetable bag will work nicely to lay right over the neck. 

You’ll want to alternate 10 minutes on and 10 minutes off with the ice as well. Ice will relieve the inflammation if that’s the cause of the crick in your neck. 

4. Start a Light Massage

Once you try icing or heating, you also can try giving your neck a light massage. Try to do this either lying down or sitting up in a supportive chair. Having another person do this could be even more beneficial. 

You’ll want to take your fingers and do gentle circular motions over the stiff area. Don’t go too hard or too deep. You just want to try and relax the muscles. 

5. Use Light Stretching

Stretching could be a great way to release the tension in your neck. You could do this lying down, standing up or even in a hot shower to have the heat of the water help relax your muscles at the same time.

Try gently rolling your head shoulder to shoulder while letting gravity pull your head down. The key here is trying to relax completely to allow your muscles to be fully stretched. 

If stretching feels too uncomfortable or is making things worse, stop doing it right away to avoid pulling a muscle. 


The good news is a crick in the neck usually goes away within a couple of days. If it’s not gone by then, it would be a good idea to contact your doctor and see what they would recommend. 

A way you can prevent cricks in the neck is by stretching daily, which is beneficial for the whole body. You also can make sure you have a supportive pillow that conforms to your body and supports your head the way you feel the most comfortable. 

Pain Relief and Prevention

The professionals at Cianci Chiropractic Center are here to help you get the cricks out of every part of your body. Our main goal is pain relief and prevention without the help of medication. 

We offer a range of services, including acupuncture, physical therapy, and massage therapy, to help you better understand your body and get things on track for a pain-free lifestyle. Additionally, we work with you to create a personalized plan where you’ll feel in control and in the loop. 

If you need help with your acute or chronic pain, reach out to us on our website today to book an appointment