ZocdocAnswersWhat is the best way to get my muscles to relax?

Question

What is the best way to get my muscles to relax?

I think I strained my neck working out (lifting weights and stuff). My neck is really tight. How do I get my muscles to relax without taking medication?

Answer

Glad to hear that you are working out and taking care of yourself, but sorry to hear that you strained a muscle in your neck while doing it. You should get checked out by a physician. While this sounds like only a muscle strain, a neck injury such as a prolapsed or ruptured disc can be a very serious thing. For this reason if you have any numbness or tingling in either arm or your legs, then you should go to the emergency room or see a neurosurgeon to be evaluated. With that being said, most muscle strains can be easily treated conservatively without taking any prescription medications. Initially I usually recommend icing the injured muscle to decrease inflammation. A good rule of thumb is 20 minutes on, 20 off. I would do this a few times a day for the first week or so depending on how bad the injury was. I know you don't want to take medication, but over the counter ibuprofen (motrin) can be helpful to decrease the inflammation and decrease pain. Just follow the dosage instructions on the bottle. Lastly heat and stretching can be your friend as you try to regain mobility. Try passive (gentle stretching) followed by 20 minutes of a heat pad and some stretching afterwards. You should notice that over time your mobility increases. Some muscle strains can take a while to completely heal, but most have improved significantly in about 2 weeks. If you haven;t noticed significant improvement in a couple weeks then definitely go get checked out. Also this may be obvious, but until you are completely healed you shouldn't continue to lift and risk further injury. I hope this is helpful. Bet of luck.

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