How To Massage A Crick In Your Neck

We’ve all been there. You wake up one morning, and it feels like your neck has decided to rebel against you

That annoying, stubborn crick in your neck is not just a pain in the… well, neck, but it can also throw a wrench in your day. 

But don’t worry, you’re not alone, and there are ways to ease that discomfort.

Key Facts:

  • A crick in the neck is often caused by muscle stiffness or strain.
  • Common triggers include poor posture, sleeping in an awkward position, and sudden movements.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications can help reduce swelling and relieve pain.
  • Gentle neck massages and heat application, like a warm shower, can help relax the muscles.
  • Regular neck stretches and exercises can prevent future neck cricks.

Now, let’s dive a little deeper.

In this article, we’ll explore what a crick in the neck is, why it happens, and most importantly, how you can massage it away.

We’ll also share some effective stretches and exercises to help strengthen your neck and prevent future discomfort.

So, whether you’re a frequent sufferer of neck cricks or this is your first unpleasant encounter, read on to discover how to reclaim your day from that pesky neck pain.

Understanding the Anatomy of the Neck

Before we delve into how to massage a crick out of your neck, it’s essential to understand the structure of the neck and why it’s prone to these pesky cricks.

Your neck, also known as the cervical spine, is a complex network of bones, muscles, and ligaments.

Medical diagram of the neck showing bones muscles and ligaments

It’s incredibly flexible, allowing you to move your head in various directions, but this flexibility also makes it susceptible to strain and injury.

Key Components of the Neck:

  • Intervertebral Discs: These are the cushions between the bones of your neck. They absorb shock and facilitate movement.
  • Vertebral Bones: These are the individual bones stacked on top of each other, forming your neck and spine.
  • Surrounding Ligaments: These are the bands of tissue that connect the bones and stabilize your neck.
  • Facet Joints: Located at the back of the spine, these joints help keep you upright and control the range of movement.

When you have a crick in your neck, it’s often due to the muscles around these structures tightening up or becoming stiff.

This can be triggered by various things, from sleeping in an awkward position to sudden movements or prolonged poor posture.

In the next section, we’ll explore some home remedies that can help alleviate the discomfort of a neck crick.

But remember, if your neck pain persists or is accompanied by other symptoms like numbness or severe headaches, it’s crucial to seek medical attention.

Home Remedies for a Crick in Your Neck

When a crick in the neck strikes, it’s natural to want immediate relief. Luckily, there are several home remedies that can help alleviate the discomfort and get your neck back to feeling normal.

Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers

Non-prescription medications can be a quick and effective way to reduce pain and inflammation. Options include:

  • Aspirin: Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, aspirin can help reduce swelling and alleviate pain.
  • Ibuprofen: This is another anti-inflammatory drug that can help with pain relief.
  • Naproxen: Often used for pain resulting from inflammation, naproxen can also be a good choice.

Remember, it’s important to follow the dosage instructions on the packaging and consult with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns.

The Power of Heat

Applying heat to the affected area can help relax the muscles and increase blood flow, promoting healing.

Here are a couple of ways to use heat for relief:

  • Hot Shower: Letting the warm water run over your neck can help loosen the stiff muscles. If your shower has a jet setting, even better! The pressure can mimic a gentle massage.
  • Heat Pad: A heat pad or warm towel applied to the neck can also provide relief. Remember to avoid direct contact with the skin to prevent burns.

In the next section, we’ll delve into the specifics of how to massage a crick out of your neck. But remember, these remedies are for temporary relief.

How to Properly Massage a Crick in Your Neck

Now that we’ve covered some initial relief methods, let’s move on to the main event: massaging that crick out of your neck.

A gentle massage can help to relax the muscles, improve circulation, and ultimately alleviate the discomfort.

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Find the Pain Point

First, you need to locate the exact spot where the pain is coming from. It’s usually a specific point in your neck or upper shoulder area that feels particularly tight or tender.

Step 2: Apply Gentle Pressure

Using your fingers, apply gentle pressure to the pain point. Start with light pressure, and gradually increase as your muscles begin to relax. Remember, the goal is to relieve tension, not cause more pain.

Step 3: Use Circular Motions

Move your fingers in small, circular motions, working the tight muscles. You can also try kneading the area like dough, which can help to break up muscle knots.

Step 4: Extend the Massage

Don’t just focus on the pain point. Extend the massage to the surrounding areas as well, as these muscles could also be tense and contributing to the crick.

Step 5: Repeat

Repeat this process a few times throughout the day, especially if you’re dealing with a particularly stubborn crick.


  • Avoid massaging if it causes sharp pain or discomfort.
  • Be careful not to press on the spine directly.
  • If the crick doesn’t improve after a few days of self-massage, consider seeking professional help.

Chiropractic Care and Neck Cricks

When it comes to dealing with a crick in your neck, chiropractic care can be a valuable part of your recovery plan.

Chiropractors are trained to address issues related to the musculoskeletal system, which includes that painful knot in your neck that you woke up with.

Chiropractic care - illustration of the spine

Chiropractic adjustments aim to improve the range of motion in the affected part of your body, reduce neck pain, and help your stiff neck feel more relaxed.

This can be particularly beneficial if self-massage doesn’t provide sufficient relief or if the cause of the crick is related to spinal alignment.

Understanding Muscle Knots in Your Neck

Muscle knots, or trigger points, are areas of tension within your muscles. They can be a common cause of neck aches and are often the culprit when your neck feels stiff or painful.

These knots can develop due to various reasons, such as hunching over your computer or keeping your neck in an awkward position for too long.

sitting hunched at computer - illustration

Self-massage may help release these knots and provide some relief. However, if the knot doesn’t go away or the pain and injury persist, it might be time to see a massage therapist.

The Role of Massage Therapy

A professional massage therapist can use various techniques, such as Swedish massage, to relieve muscle tension, improve circulation, and promote relaxation.

This can really help if your neck pain is due to sore muscles or muscle knots in your neck.

Massage therapy can also help prevent future neck cricks. By regularly working on the muscles in your neck, a massage therapist can help maintain a healthy range of motion, reduce the likelihood of acute pain, and help you feel better overall.

In the next section, we’ll explore some effective stretches and exercises that can help prevent future neck cricks. Remember, taking care of your neck involves both relief and prevention.

Stretches and Exercises for Neck Relief

While massaging can provide immediate relief, incorporating regular neck stretches and exercises into your routine can help strengthen your neck muscles and prevent future cricks.

neck stretches - illustration

Here are some effective exercises you can try:

1. Neck Tilts

  • Sit or stand with your back straight.
  • Slowly tilt your head towards one shoulder until you feel a gentle stretch.
  • Hold for 15-30 seconds, then return to the center.
  • Repeat on the other side.

2. Neck Turns

  • In the same position, slowly turn your head to one side until your chin is over your shoulder.
  • Hold for 15-30 seconds, then slowly turn your head back to the center.
  • Repeat on the other side.

3. Neck Flexion and Extension

  • Gently lower your chin towards your chest, hold for a few seconds, then slowly lift your chin towards the ceiling.
  • Be careful not to strain your neck. The movements should be slow and controlled.

4. Shoulder Rolls

  • Roll your shoulders backwards in a circular motion, then repeat the movement forwards.
  • This exercise helps relieve tension in the shoulders, which can contribute to neck cricks.

5. Chest Stretch

  • Stand in a doorway with your arms out to the sides and your elbows at a 90-degree angle.
  • Place your forearms on the door frames and step forward until you feel a stretch in your chest and shoulders.
  • This stretch can help improve your posture and reduce the strain on your neck.

Remember, consistency is key when it comes to these exercises. Regular practice can help keep your neck flexible and resilient. 

In the next section, we’ll discuss some lifestyle changes that can help prevent a crick in the neck.

Preventing a Crick in the Neck

Now that we’ve covered how to relieve and manage a crick in the neck, let’s talk about prevention. After all, the best way to deal with a crick in the neck is to avoid getting one in the first place.

Here are some lifestyle changes that can help:

1. Mind Your Posture

Good posture is crucial in preventing neck cricks. Whether you’re standing, sitting, or even sleeping, maintaining a neutral spine can help reduce unnecessary strain on your neck.

Here are a few tips:

  • When sitting, keep your feet flat on the floor and your back straight.
  • Avoid cradling your phone between your neck and shoulder.
  • When sleeping, choose a pillow that supports the natural curve of your neck.

2. Take Regular Breaks

If you’re working at a desk or doing any activity that requires you to be in the same position for extended periods, take regular breaks.

Stand up, stretch, and move around every 30 minutes to prevent muscle stiffness.

3. Stay Hydrated

Believe it or not, staying hydrated can help keep your joints and muscles healthy, including those in your neck. Aim for at least 8 glasses of water a day.

4. Exercise Regularly

Regular physical activity can help keep your muscles strong and flexible, reducing the likelihood of neck cricks.

Remember to include neck and shoulder exercises in your routine.

5. Be Mindful of Your Movements

Avoid sudden movements that could jolt your neck, such as quickly turning your head. Be mindful of your movements during physical activities and sports.

By incorporating these habits into your daily routine, you can significantly reduce your chances of experiencing a crick in the neck.

In the next section, we’ll wrap up everything we’ve covered in this comprehensive guide.


We’ve covered a lot of ground in this guide, from understanding the anatomy of the neck to learning how to massage a crick out of your neck.

We’ve also explored some effective home remedies, stretches, and exercises, and discussed lifestyle changes that can help prevent future neck cricks.

Here’s a quick recap:

  • A crick in the neck is often due to muscle stiffness or strain.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers, heat application, and gentle massages can provide immediate relief.
  • Regular neck stretches and exercises can help strengthen your neck muscles and prevent future cricks.
  • Maintaining good posture, taking regular breaks, staying hydrated, exercising regularly, and being mindful of your movements can help prevent neck cricks.

Remember, while a crick in the neck is common and often manageable at home, persistent or severe neck pain should not be ignored. 

We hope this guide has been helpful in your quest to understand and manage a crick in the neck. Here’s to happier, healthier necks!


  1. Kenhub – Neck Anatomy: Muscles, glands, organs: Detailed information about the anatomy of the neck, including muscles and glands.
  2. Cleveland Clinic – Cervical Spine (Neck): What It Is, Anatomy & Disorders: Comprehensive guide on the cervical spine, its anatomy, and related disorders.
  3. Healthline – Crick in Neck: Treatment, Causes, and More: A useful resource on the causes and treatment options for a crick in the neck.
  4. Verywell Fit – The Only 9 Stretches You Need to Relieve Tension in Your Neck: A guide to effective stretches for relieving neck tension.
  5. WebMD – 6 Exercises for Neck Pain: Best Bets, Getting Started, and More: A collection of exercises specifically designed to alleviate neck pain.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new health practices. We are not responsible for any harm or injury resulting from the application of techniques described in this article.

Q: What is a crick in the neck?

A: A crick in the neck refers to a sudden, sharp pain or discomfort in the neck area. It is often accompanied by stiffness and limited movement.

Q: How does a crick in the neck occur?

A: A crick in the neck can occur due to various reasons, such as muscle knots in the neck, poor sleeping posture, sudden movement or strain on the neck, or repetitive activities that put stress on the neck muscles.

Q: How can I relieve neck pain caused by a crick?

A: There are several ways to relieve neck pain caused by a crick. You can try gentle stretching exercises, applying heat or cold packs, taking over-the-counter pain medication, or getting a massage.

Q: Can massage therapy help with neck pain relief?

A: Yes, massage therapy can be effective in relieving neck pain caused by a crick. It can help relax the muscles in your neck, reduce tension, and improve blood circulation to the affected area.

Q: What types of massage techniques are beneficial for neck pain relief?

A: Some massage techniques that can help relieve neck pain include trigger point massage, deep tissue massage, and self-massage techniques targeting the neck and shoulder area.

Q: Should I consult a professional massage therapist for neck pain?

A: If your neck pain persists or worsens, it is advisable to consult a professional massage therapist or another healthcare professional such as a chiropractor or physical therapist for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Q: Can a crick in the neck be a sign of a more serious condition?

A: In some cases, a crick in the neck may be a symptom of an underlying condition such as spinal misalignment or chronic neck pain. If you have persistent or recurring neck pain, it is recommended to seek medical attention.

Q: How can I prevent getting a crick in my neck?

A: To prevent getting a crick in your neck, you can practice good posture, use proper neck support while sleeping, avoid repetitive activities that strain the neck, and incorporate regular stretching and strengthening exercises for the neck and upper back muscles.

Q: Can a crick in the neck be caused by stress?

A: While stress itself may not directly cause a crick in the neck, it can contribute to muscle tension and stiffness in the neck area, making you more prone to experiencing neck pain and discomfort.

Q: Can a head massage help with a crick in the neck?

A: Yes, a head massage can be beneficial for relieving a crick in the neck. Massaging the scalp, neck, and upper back can help relax the muscles, reduce tension, and promote overall relaxation and pain relief.