Those pulled muscles that last for a few days but basically come out of nowhere: Is it a diet thing? Just a luck of the draw?
CodeBrownPT: Physiotherapist here!
ELI5: It can be the position our neck is in at night or an injury from earlier in the day.
1) Because many of our normal pain responses and reflexes are inhibited during sleep, we may find ourselves in a position of stress on the joints in the neck to which the stimulus to move does not exceed the necessary threshold for waking up. Sleeping on your stomach or with too many or too few pillows can cause this; try to have a pillow large/small enough that your head sits in ‘neutral’ or in the middle when you lay on your side.
2) More commonly, stress occurred on the neck the day before. Many people who experience whiplash from a motor vehicle accident will have a delayed pain/inflammatory response. This likely is due to the mechanics of the synovial joints in our spine. It may be a harmless move in the wrong direction or hours stressed in one position, but many people attribute this morning stiffness erroneously to ‘sleeping wrong’. We call this an ‘acute torticollis’ – although generally this is a misnomer as many people won’t actually have an altered head position.
The neck is a complicated system of joints, muscles, and stability, so there’s no one answer on how to avoid ‘sleeping wrong’, but one good exercise is strengthening the deep neck flexors longus colli & capitus, which pull the occiput (skull) into a bit of flexion (bent position) and provide tension and stability for the entire neck. http://www.coreexercisesolutions.com/chin-tuck/. Don’t do this if you get pain during!
Froogler: I had this problem. It’s because of your posture when using the computer. Try the “chin tuck” exercise. It helps instantly and for the long term get your posture right
ggrieves: Most people get it from sleeping sitting up or sleeping in a bad neck position. If you’re getting it just from yawning you might need to get your posture checked and some exercises. It’s not a muscle it’s a nerve pinch.
river_tree_nut: Stress in your upper shoulders. Many people subconsciously hold up their shoulders. The constant holding causes buildup of lactic acid and actually shortens the muscles. The already overworked muscles then tear more easily. Drink some water. Take a deep breath. Keep your shoulders as far away from your ears as possible.