Spending your days at a desk, staring at a screen or paper, or any task that has you holding your head down or forward can lead to a stiff neck.  Your head weighs approximately 11 pounds, and for every inch down or forward you’re adding weight. For example, if you are holding your head forward 30 degrees to look down at your phone, your neck muscles are supporting approximately 40 pounds.  Understand that your neck muscles are not designed to support this level of weight for long periods of time.  That’s why they hurt.  Eventually, these muscles will fatigue to the point of failure.  That can lead to upper back/shoulder pain and headaches as other muscles engage to pick up the slack.

You can avoid neck pain by simply remembering to look up.  Once an hour, take 30 seconds and look at the ceiling.  This will allow the neck muscles to get back into balance.  Muscles in the back of the neck will relax and rest, while the muscles in the front of the neck will stretch and activate. 

If you’re already in pain. Get a massage.  Your therapist has literally hundreds of neck massage techniques to choose from.  Any of these can help to release the muscles and other soft tissues in the neck, restoring the proper balance and relieving the pain.