Wake Up with a Sore Neck? Try These 3 Tips to Get Moving

Wake Up with a Sore Neck? Try These 3 Tips to Get Moving


Waking up with a sore neck can set the tone for an uncomfortable day. The impact on your daily life can be significant, whether it’s due to an awkward sleeping position or an underlying issue. But fear not—this blog is here to guide you through understanding, preventing, and managing that discomfort.

As we delve into the common causes, symptoms, and practical tips for a sore neck, keep an eye out for a particular focus on Continuous Motion Physical Therapy. Later in this blog, we’ll explore how this approach, centered around gradual, controlled movements, can be a game-changer in improving strength and flexibility for lasting relief.

What is a sore neck?

A sore neck, characterized by discomfort or pain in the neck region, can often make simple movements challenging. This discomfort may stem from various causes, including muscle strain, poor sleeping positions, underlying medical conditions, or other health issues. In some cases, persistent discomfort can lead to chronic neck pain.

How common is it to wake up with a sore neck?

Waking up with a sore neck from sleeping is a common complaint. The way we sleep, the type of pillow we use, and even the mattress can contribute to neck discomfort.

Neck pain stands out as a prevalent musculoskeletal disorder, with a standardized prevalence rate of 27.0 per 1000 population in 2019. Neck pain is a widespread issue, affecting anywhere from 16% to 75% of the population globally. In the United States, it holds a position among the top 5 disorders, with 10-20% of individuals reporting incidents of neck pain.

Understanding the prevalence of neck soreness after sleeping can help individuals take preventive measures.

How Common is it to Wake Up with a Sore Neck?

Waking up with a sore or stiff neck is a widespread concern that impacts a significant number of individuals. The factors contributing to this discomfort are diverse and often intertwined with our daily habits. Let’s delve into the specific causes to understand better why waking up with a sore or stiff neck is such a prevalent complaint:

Sleeping Positions

Wake Up with a Sore Neck? Try These 3 Tips to Get Moving

The way we position ourselves during sleep plays a pivotal role in the occurrence of neck pain. Sleeping in an awkward or strained position, known as sleep position, can lead to muscle stiffness and soreness upon waking.

Choice of Pillow

Wake Up with a Sore Neck? Try These 3 Tips to Get Moving

The type of pillow we use can significantly impact neck health. Specifically, firm pillows or cervical pillows, designed for proper support, are crucial. Pillows that lack this support or are too high or too flat may not align the spine correctly, contributing to neck discomfort.

Mattress Quality

Wake Up with a Sore Neck? Try These 3 Tips to Get Moving

The mattress we sleep on is another critical factor. A mattress that is too firm or too soft may fail to provide adequate support to the neck and spine, potentially leading to chronic pain, muscle tension, and discomfort.

Sleeping Environment

Wake Up with a Sore Neck? Try These 3 Tips to Get Moving

External factors such as room temperature, lighting, and noise levels can impact the quality of our sleep, potentially disrupting the conditions needed for normal activities. These disruptions may contribute to waking up with a sore neck

Stress and Tension

Wake Up with a Sore Neck? Try These 3 Tips to Get Moving

Mental and emotional stress can manifest physically, causing tension in the neck muscles. This accumulated tension, especially during sleep, can result in waking up with acute pain and discomfort in the neck, particularly after strenuous activity.

What are the symptoms of a sore neck?

Experiencing a sore neck can manifest in various ways, and recognizing these key symptoms early is crucial for effective intervention. Here are the primary signs associated with a sore neck:

Discomfort: The earliest sign of a potential neck issue is a mild to moderate, persistent discomfort in the neck region, often stemming from factors such as awkward positions during sleep.

Stiffness: Notable stiffness in the neck, making it challenging to turn or tilt the head, may indicate the presence of neck strain, a common cause of discomfort.

Headaches: Pain stemming from the neck, leading to tension headaches or migraines, could signify involvement of the nerve root in the neck region.

Limited Range of Motion: Reduced ability to move the neck freely, impacting daily activities, may suggest issues related to the cervical vertebrae.

Muscle Spasms: Involuntary muscle contractions or spasms, intensifying discomfort, can lead to severe pain in the neck.

3 Tips to Get Moving When you have a Sore Neck

Gentle Neck Stretches

Wake Up with a Sore Neck? Try These 3 Tips to Get Moving

Engaging in gentle stretching exercises can help relieve tension and improve flexibility, gradually alleviating muscle tightness and the discomfort associated with a sore neck. This approach is particularly beneficial for people with neck pain.

Low-Impact Exercise

Incorporating low-impact exercises like walking or swimming into your routine can enhance blood circulation, promoting flexibility and aiding in range of motion exercises for the neck. These gentle activities, including specific neck exercises, contribute to overall neck health and can alleviate stiffness.

Maintain Good Posture

Wake Up with a Sore Neck? Try These 3 Tips to Get Moving

Poor posture contributes to neck pain and tension. Being mindful of how you sit, stand, and sleep can prevent unnecessary strain on the neck muscles, especially during prolonged periods.

When to See a Doctor?

While many cases of a sore neck respond well to home remedies, certain situations warrant prompt medical attention. Here are five indicators that it’s time to consult a healthcare professional:

  • Persistent Pain: If your neck pain persists despite trying home remedies or lasts for an extended period, seeking medical advice is advisable.
  • Severe Discomfort: Intense and unrelenting neck pain requires professional assessment, especially if it significantly impacts your daily activities.
  • Radiating Pain: If the pain extends beyond your neck and radiates to your shoulders, arms, or other areas, it could indicate nerve involvement, necessitating medical evaluation.
  • Accompanying Symptoms: Neck pain accompanied by numbness, tingling, weakness, or headaches should prompt a consultation with a healthcare professional.
  • Limited Range of Motion: If your neck pain limits your ability to move your head freely, especially if this limitation persists, seeking medical attention is warranted.

More Knowledge with Continuous Motion Physical Therapy

Embark on a journey to understand and address waking up with a sore neck, knee pain, and migraines. Explore practical relief strategies, discover the benefits of Continuous Motion Physical Therapy, and delve into the potential of dry needling for migraines. Take charge of your well-being with insights tailored for you.


A sore neck can disrupt daily life, but with a better understanding of its causes and symptoms, individuals can take proactive steps on how to fix a sore neck. Incorporating simple exercises and maintaining good posture are essential components of a neck-friendly lifestyle.


Q1: What sleeping positions are best for preventing a sore neck?

A1: Discover recommended sleeping positions to enhance sleep quality, reduce the risk of waking up with neck discomfort, and promote overall neck health, seeking medical care when necessary, especially in cases of intense pain. Choosing a supportive pillow is also crucial in maintaining proper neck alignment during sleep.

Q2: Are there specific ergonomic tips for preventing neck pain at work?

A3: Discover workplace strategies and ergonomic adjustments to minimize the risk of developing neck pain, promoting overall health condition and well-being. Ensuring a comfortable and supportive workspace can help prevent discomfort caused by prolonged periods in an uncomfortable position. Additionally, choosing the right ergonomic chair, avoiding feather pillows, and opting for special neck pillows, such as memory foam pillows, can contribute to maintaining a healthy neck.

Q3: Is there a connection between posture and neck pain?

A3: Understand the role of bad posture in neck discomfort and discover tips for maintaining good posture throughout the day to alleviate strain on the neck. Additionally, incorporating shoulder rolls into your routine and using supportive tools such as a soft neck collar, neck roll, or memory foam pillows can provide extra comfort and help maintain proper neck alignment. Seeking chiropractic care is also an option to effectively address and manage neck pain.

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Dr. Cameron Moore

PT, DPT, FAAOMPT, CSCS, Dip. Osteopractic

Helping active people STAY active

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Dr. Peyton Oules, PT, DPT Cert. DN

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Dr. Peyton Oules, physical therapist, is a Brewster, Washington native who grew up as a small-town athlete. During her high school sports career, she suffered from two ACL injuries which led her to pursue a career in physical therapy. 

She began her studies by earning her Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science, Pre-PT at Eastern Washington University.  During her undergraduate studies, she spent much of her time playing volleyball and coaching at the high school level.  Dr. Oules continued her education to earn her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Franklin Pierce University in Goodyear, Arizona.While in school, Dr. Oules became Certified in both Dry Needling and Myofascial Cupping.

Part of her clinical training included international travel to Sydney, Australia where she expanded her orthopedic skill set and had the opportunity to provide treatment for the athletes from the 2023 World Underwater Hockey Championships.

During her doctorate level studies, Dr. Oules learned the importance in making movement a lifestyle. She has a passion for sharing this knowledge with the community and getting her clients back to the activities they love.

Outside of the clinic Dr. Oules enjoys CrossFit®, hiking, traveling, and spending time outdoors with her dog, Rue. Some of her favorite adventures to date include hiking parts of the Grand Canyon and running across the Sydney Harbour Bridge during the Sydney 10k!

Dr. Peyton Oules’ Credentials:
•           Physical Therapist (PT)
•           Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
•           Certified Dry Needling (Cert. DN)

Dr. Khristian McGinley, PT, DPT Cert. DN

therapy in pregnancy

Dr. Khristian McGinley, physical therapist, grew up here in Phoenix, as a competitive softball player with a longtime passion for health and wellness. After sustaining an elbow injury in high school and attending PT herself, she knew that she wanted to pursue a career helping people recover from injuries and getting back to doing what they love. She eventually received her B.S in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Arizona in 2013, then earned her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Franklin Pierce University in 2017.

Dr. McGinley began her career with a passion in pediatrics and orthopedics, undergoing coursework to treat diagnoses such as torticollis, developmental delay, and toe walking. She also became certified in Dry Needling in 2017, and since then has been additionally trained in Dry Needling for Pelvic Rehabilitation. After the challenging birth of her first child, she developed a passion for treating the pregnant and postpartum population. She became specialty training in Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation in 2021 and since then has focused her practice on helping moms achieve pain free pregnancy, peaceful childbirth, and complete postpartum recovery. She specializes in diagnoses such as urinary incontinence, diastases recti, pelvic organ prolapse, and pelvic pain.

Outside of the clinic, Dr. McGinley enjoys hiking, running, camping, weight lifting, and playing slow pitch softball. She loves spending as much time as she can outside with her husband and two children.

Dr. Khristian McGinley’s Credentials:

  • ​Physical Therapist (PT)
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
  • Certified Dry Needling (Cert. DN)
  • Specialty-trained in Pelvic Floor Therapy

Dr. Meredith Wall, PT, DPT FAFS, Cert. DN

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Dr. Meredith Wall, physical therapist, grew up as a competitive athlete in basketball, gymnastics, soccer and volleyball. After sustaining an ankle injury and going to rehab as a young athlete, she instantly fell in love with learning about sports injuries and rehabilitation. This led her to major in Exercises Science at Grand Valley State University. After she graduated in 2010, she immediately pursued physical therapy to ultimately achieve her lifelong goals of becoming a physical therapist. She earned a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Grand Valley State University in 2013, graduating as a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society recognizing individuals with outstanding GPA in a college graduate program.

Dr. Wall continued her educational pathway through the Gray Institute receiving a fellowship in Applied Functional Science (FAFS). A FAFS is only obtained by a select number of practitioners, who deliver optimal care through the diagnosis and treatment of functional human movement. She also became Certified in Dry Needling (Cert. DN) in 2017, is trained in the McKenzie Method to treat spinal pain, and most recently has become specialized in Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation. This specialty area allows her to treat women across the lifespan dealing with incontinence, diastasis recti, pelvic pain, and pain during or after pregnancy.

Dr. Wall’s special interests include diagnosing and treating active patients across the lifespan to help them return to optimal function. In her spare time, she enjoys Crossfit®, running, coaching youth sports, and traveling with her husband and three sons.

Dr. Meredith Wall’s Credentials:

  • ​Physical Therapist (PT)
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
  • Fellow of Applied Functional Science (FAFS)
  • Certified Dry Needling (Cert. DN)
  • Specialty-trained in Pelvic Floor Therapy

Dr. Cameron Moore, PT, DPT, FAAOMPT, CSCS, Dip. Osteopractic

skilled thrapist

Dr. Cameron Moore, physical therapist and co-owner, has always been very active with sports and activities starting with competitive motocross racing up to a semi-professional level and being a scholarship athlete in track and field competing at the division 1 level in college at Eastern Washington University in the triple jump. Cameron became interested in the profession of physical therapy after having knee surgery in high school and seeing the inter-workings of the profession. He pursued his bachelors degree in Exercise Science before moving to Phoenix to earn his Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) from Franklin Pierce University.

He then began specialization courses for spinal manipulation (Spinal Manipulation Institute) and dry needling (Dry Needling Institute). This lead Cameron in to becoming a Fellow of the American Academy of Manual Physical Therapist (FAAOMPT) through the American Academy of Manipulative Therapy (AAMT) and earned a Diploma of Osteopractic®, a distinction and training that only a small percentage of physical therapist have completed.

Dr. Moore continues to be very involved with motocross riding, Crossfit®, Olympic weight lifting, running and an overall active lifestyle with his Wife (Michelle) and their Vizsla (Parker).

Dr. Cameron Moore’s Credentials

  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
  • Certified in Dry Needling (Cert DN)
  • Certified in Spinal Manipulation (Cert SMT)
  • Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS)
  • Diploma in Osteopractic® (Dip Osteopractic)
  • Fellow Of The American Academy Of Manual Physical Therapist (FAAOMPT)
  • American Academy of Manipulative Therapy Fellow (AAMT)
  • Crossfit® Level 1 Certified (CF-L1)
  • Crossfit® Mobility Certified
  • USA Track and Field Level 1 Coach

Dr. Michelle Moore, PT, DPT FAAOMPT, Dip. Osteopractic

weightlifting in physical therapy

Dr. Michelle Moore, physical therapist and co-owner, grew up as a competitive gymnast and developed a passion for healthy living from a young age. Her collegiate studies in Health Education at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and athletic background influenced her to combine her passions and pursue a career in physical therapy. She earned a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Franklin Pierce University in 2013.

Dr. Moore continued her educational pathway through the American Academy of Manipulative Therapy where she earned her Diploma Osteopractic® (Dip. Osteopractic) and became Certified in Dry Needling (Cert. DN), and Spinal Manipulative Therapy (Cert. SMT). From 2016-2017 Dr. Moore completed the rigorous coursework to become a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy (FAAOMPT), a distinction held by only a fraction of the profession.

Dr. Moore’s special interests include treating active individuals and returning them to the activities that they love. In her spare time she enjoys Crossfit®, Olympic Weightlifting, mountain biking, hiking, and traveling with her husband, Cameron, and dog, Parker.

Dr. Michelle Moore’s Credentials:

  • ​Physical Therapist (PT)
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
  • Fellow of American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists (FAAOMPT)
  • Diploma in Osteopractic® (Dip. Osteopractic)
  • Certified Dry Needling (Cert. DN)
  • Certified Spinal Manipulative Therapy (Cert. SMT)
  • Crossfit® Mobility Certified