The muscles of the neck and face move the head up and down, side to side, rotate the head right and left, produce speech, and chew food. These muscles can tighten due to stress, poor posture, injury, awkward sleeping position or illness. This can lead to headaches, decreased neck motion, pain with chewing and difficulty performing daily tasks like driving. Besides anti-inflammatory medication and muscle relaxants, there are several things you can do to decrease tightness in neck and cheek muscles.
Apply heat to stiff areas to increase blood flow and relax tight muscles. Make a hot-pack by pouring 0.907kg. of dry rice into a tube sock. Knot the end of the sock and place it in the microwave. Heat on high for 30 seconds. Add 15 seconds at a time until the sock is hot. Place or hold it on the tight area for 20 to 30 minutes. If it is too hot, wait a few minutes or place a washcloth between the sock and your skin. Use heat several times per day, but no more than once per hour.
Decrease tightness in the muscles in the back of your neck by bringing your chin toward your chest until you feel pulling in this area. If you have pain, bring your head up until the pain disappears. With your neck flexed, tip your right ear toward your right shoulder to stretch the muscles on the left side of your neck. To increase this stretch, gently pull your head into more flexion; place your right hand on the left-top side of your head and gently pull your head further down. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat three times, then switch and perform on the opposite side.
Stretch the muscles on the side of your neck; look straight forward and tip your right ear toward your right shoulder until you feel pulling on the left side of your neck. To increase this stretch, gently apply over pressure to your head with your right hand. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat three times. Switch and perform on the opposite side.
Position your cervical spine in proper alignment before stretching the muscles in the front of your neck. Sit up straight and pull your shoulder blades together. Pull your chin back and look up toward the ceiling until you feel pulling in the front of your neck. Do not apply over pressure in this position, as there are structures in the neck that can be damaged with overstretching. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat three times.
Stretch your cheek muscles by opening your mouth as far as you can. Yawning might occur during this exercise. Gently move your jaw side to side with your mouth open. Hold it open for 10 seconds and repeat three times. Each of these neck and cheek stretches can be performed several times each day, with many hours between each session.