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  • Writer's picturePhoebus Tian

How to use a hair dryer to ease your stiff neck and pain.

Updated: Mar 16

Sore neck? It's pretty common. It may also be accompanied by headaches, shoulder pain and arm pain. Modern life comes with a lot of pressure from work and family. Working in the same position for long hours, endless Zoom calls, going to bed late and waking up early, putting the body's muscles under tremendous stress.

Acupuncture neck pain
Acupuncture neck pain

Causes of a stiff neck

The most obvious symptom is pain in the neck when waking up, limited mobility or pain when engaging in specific movement directions. The stiff neck often results from minor muscle strains, possibly due to:

  • Using a pillow that is not suitable for your spine.

  • The mattress is too soft.

  • Sitting still for an extended period of time.

  • Looking down at your phone, reading on the tube.

  • Accident or injury

  • Stress

One of the most common victims of a stiff neck is the levator scapulae muscle. It's located at the back and side of the neck and connects the cervical spine with the shoulder. This muscle is controlled by the third and fourth cervical nerves (C3, C4).

Use your home hairdryer for one minute to relieve pain

Acupuncture practitioners often use moxibustion to treat recurring cases of cold soreness. But it is not suitable for people to perform moxibustion at home. However, there is a home remedy, a hairdryer, that can produce similar results to moxibustion. Using a hair dryer to warm each acupuncture point for one minute can relieve the neck and shoulders' discomfort.

Unlike moxibustion, which requires precise positioning of the acupuncture points, the hot air from the hair dryer can warm the skin around the acupuncture points. Like moxibustion, it is a warming concept that improves the meridians' circulation and enhances the body's Yang energy, thus preventing recurrent stiff neck symptoms.

Ensure Safety First: Before you start, make sure the hair dryer is in good working condition and set it to a low or medium heat setting. High heat can cause burns or exacerbate your condition. Find a Comfortable Position: Sit in a comfortable chair or stand in a position where your neck and shoulders are relaxed. Avoid tensing up as you prepare to apply the heat.

Begin with a Warm-Up: To prevent shock to your muscles, begin with the hair dryer at a distance, gradually bringing it closer to your neck. Keep it moving in a constant, slow motion to distribute the warmth evenly and avoid concentrating heat in one spot for too long.

Acupuncture points can be used for stiff neck

Hou Xi (SI 3)

When a loose fist is made, at the ulnar end of the distal palmar crease proximal to the 5th metacarpal phalangeal joint.

Wai Guan (SJ 5)

At the back of the arm, 5-7 cm above the crease of the wrist.

Wai Lao Gong (Ex-UE8)

This point is on the back of the hand, between the second and the third metacarpal bone, about 1-2 cm posterior to the metacarpophalangeal joint.

Feng Chi (GB 20)

In a depression between the upper portion of the sternocleidomastoid muscle and the trapezius, parallel to the lower end of the earlobe.

Jian Jing (GB 21)

Draw an imaginary line between the neck's bony prominence (C7) and the top of the shoulder joint (acromion process). This point is in the midway of this line.

Use a hair dryer to blow hot air along the neck and shoulders until the skin is slightly warm, and rub the points with your index finger and thumb.

Acupuncture points for stiff neck
Acupuncture points for stiff neck

When using a hair dryer, make sure to maintain a safe distance of about 10cm and keep the airspeed at a low to medium intensity, not the strongest, for about 1 minute each time. But this method is not suitable for everyone. People who cannot express their sensations clearly, or people with dulled senses, such as diabetics, should not use it to avoid skin damage.

Simple neck stretch

After using the hair dryer, gently stretch your neck muscles. Look straight ahead, tuck your chin in slightly and move your head backwards, slowly and smoothly, as if you're trying to give yourself a double chin. Do not force this movement, and be sure to keep your head level. Hold for 4-5 seconds. Repeat six times. You can do this a few times a day. If this stretch is too difficult in the beginning, you can use your fingers to gently push your chin backwards. It is useful to watch yourself in the mirror.

Tilt your head from side to side, rotate it slowly, and bring your ear towards your shoulder on each side, but don't force any movement. The warmth should make these stretches easier and more effective.

Allow your neck to cool down naturally in a neutral position. Avoid sudden exposure to cold temperatures immediately after the heat treatment. Drinking water after applying heat helps to rehydrate your body and muscles, promoting recovery.

Assess how your neck feels after the treatment. If you notice any redness, discomfort, or adverse effects, it’s important to stop using this method and consult a healthcare professional if necessary. Remember, while using a hair dryer can provide temporary relief by relaxing the muscles and improving blood flow, it's not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for underlying conditions causing stiffness. If you frequently experience a stiff neck, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for a comprehensive assessment and tailored advice.

What are the long-term strategies for managing chronic neck stiffness?

  1. Ergonomic Adjustments: Evaluate and improve your work and living spaces to ensure they support good posture. Adjustable chairs, standing desks, and positioning computer screens at eye level can significantly reduce strain on your neck.

  2. Regular Exercise: Engage in regular, balanced exercise that includes stretching, strength training, and aerobic activities. Yoga and Pilates can be particularly beneficial for strengthening the core and improving flexibility, supporting neck health.

  3. osture Awareness: Becoming more aware of your posture throughout the day can help prevent neck stiffness. Practices like mindfulness and yoga can increase body awareness and encourage posture adjustments.

  4. Stress Management: Since stress can contribute to muscle tension, including in the neck, employing stress reduction techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or engaging in hobbies can help relax your muscles.

  5. Acupuncture, some people find helpful for managing chronic neck stiffness. These should be pursued under the guidance of certified professionals.

  6. Sleep Quality: Ensuring you have a supportive pillow and a mattress that promotes good spinal alignment can significantly affect neck health. Try different pillow types and sleeping positions to find what best supports your neck.

Can changes in diet really impact muscle health and reduce neck stiffness, and if so, what specific foods or nutrients are recommended?

Yes, dietary changes can significantly affect muscle health and potentially alleviate neck stiffness by providing essential nutrients that support muscle relaxation, repair, and reduce inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids found in foods like salmon and walnuts can reduce muscle inflammation, while magnesium, present in leafy greens and nuts, is crucial for muscle relaxation. Vitamin D, from sources such as fatty fish and sunlight, is essential for bone and muscle health, potentially reducing stiffness. Potassium-rich foods like bananas and avocados maintain normal muscle function, and staying hydrated is vital for muscle flexibility. Antioxidants in berries and green tea combat inflammation, and proteins in lean meats and legumes support muscle repair. Additionally, curcumin in turmeric offers anti-inflammatory benefits. Incorporating these nutrients into a balanced diet, alongside other lifestyle modifications, can improve muscle health and reduce neck stiffness, but it's important to consult with healthcare professionals for tailored advice, especially when considering dietary supplements or significant changes.

If you have more questions, you can visit our acupuncture clinic in South Kensington, Chelsea, London.

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