Did you know that stiff neck has a proper medical name? It's called Acute Torticollis, or wry neck, and described that feeling when you wake up with a stiff neck and pain, or when the area becomes 'stuck' following a sudden movement.
So how should you treat a stiff neck? First it is wise to talk to a doctor or physiotherapist to rule out conditions like a Slipped disc or Spondylosis.
Assuming you get the all clear, then physiotherapy, gentle stretching, and heat packs will all relieve the symptoms. But how can you stop it happening again?
Typically, something like a stiff neck has an underlying cause - if you can figure out what this is, you can stop it reoccurring. Likely causes include:
Something you've been doing: This can either be something cumulative that has finally caused a problem (hours at a PC every day for example), or a change in your routine - a new exercise you've just started doing for example.
Your sleeping position: Sleeping with your neck hunched up, or on a pillow or mattress that provide no support, are common causes.
Stress: We carry lots of stress in our neck and shoulders, so an increase in stress, or a long period of high stress, can sometimes produce physical symptoms.
Lack of exercise: Weak muscles and lack of flexibility leave this area susceptible to problems.