Understanding Science: How the Neck Hammock Alleviates Tension

The Neck Hammock has become a popular solution for relieving neck pain and tension. But how does lying back in a hanging hammock provide such dramatic relief for so many people?

Understanding the science behind how the Neck Hammock works will help you use it for maximum benefit.

neck hammock release neck pain

Anatomy of the Neck

To understand how the hammock alleviates neck tension, we must first briefly review anatomy. The neck is a complex structure of vertebrae, discs, nerves, muscles, tendons, and ligaments that support the weight of the head and allow mobility.

Cervical Vertebrae

The upper spine or cervical section consists of seven vertebrae labeled C1 to C7. These small vertebrae form the curves of the neck and surround the spinal cord. The atlas (C1) connects to the skull and the axis (C2) provides rotation allowing the head to turn.

The cervical vertebrae have several unique features that allow flexibility but also make them vulnerable to injury and degeneration:

  • The vertebral bodies are small and slender compared to the lower spine. This allows a greater range of motion but provides less surface area for weight bearing.
  • Facet joints between the vertebrae guide motion but can develop arthritis.
  • The spinal canal protecting the cord is narrower here, increasing the risk of impinging nerves.
  • Unique ligaments like the transverse ligament hold the upper vertebrae to the skull. These can become strained.

Intervertebral Discs

Between each vertebra are discs consisting of a gel-like nucleus pulposus surrounded by a tougher annulus fibrosus. These discs provide cushioning, prevent friction, and bind the vertebrae together.

  • Cervical discs enable flexible movement but are subject to more stress than lower discs:
  • They withstand tremendous compression forces from the weight of the head which averages 10-12 pounds.
  • The neck performs the most frequent motion of any spinal region, stressing the discs.
  • Discs lose hydration and elasticity early in life, by age 40, leading to injury and degeneration.

Muscles and Ligaments

Layers of neck muscles and ligaments surround the spine providing support and mobility. Key muscles include the sternocleidomastoid and upper trapezius. Tightness in these muscles is a major source of neck tension.

The complex layers of muscle and connective tissue keep the neck functioning but are vulnerable to strain:

  • Small muscles like the scalenes and those connecting to the skull are easily overworked.
  • The ligamentum nuchae runs from the skull to the vertebrae and maintains a cervical curve. Injury alters curve and mobility.


The spinal cord and nerve roots exit through the vertebrae to connect to the arms, shoulders and upper body. Compression of these nerves can cause radiating pain and numbness.

  • Nerves exiting the cervical spine control critical functions in the arms, chest and head. Impinging these nerves causes debilitating symptoms.
  • Nerves are subject to compression within the narrow cervical spinal canal. Loss of disc height presses nerves against bone.

This complex anatomy allows our neck and head broad mobility but also makes it vulnerable to injury and degeneration. Understanding this structure gives us clues as to how the hammock helps.

Causes of Neck Tension

To leverage the hammock, we must also examine what factors cause neck tension in the first place. Major causes include:

Poor Posture

Slumping forward to use phones and computers pulls the head forward straining muscles and compressing vertebrae. This also creates rounded shoulders stressing the upper back.

  • Repeated poor posture overworks the muscles forced to hold the head projected forward. This strains the levator scapulae, upper trapezius, and rhomboids.
  • Slouching misaligns the cervical curve, pressing vertebrae and discs together. Nerves get pinched within the flattened spinal canal.

Disk Injury and Arthritis

Injury and aging degeneration lead to bulging, herniated or compressed discs. This narrows the spinal canal putting pressure on nerves.

  • Whiplash and other impacts blow out the gel-like nucleus which presses into the annulus and nerves.
  • As discs dehydrate with age, they lose height and shock absorption. Vertebrae compress together reducing space for nerves.

Muscle Strains and Spasms

Overuse and injuries like whiplash cause strained muscles which spasm painfully when aggravated. Trigger points form in muscles like the trapezius causing referred pain.

  • Unaccustomed activities like heavy lifting, painting overhead, or sleeping in poor positions overextend neck muscles.
  • Whiplash violently jerks the neck past its normal range. This strains muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
  • Trigger points feel like knots and send pain to other areas causing headaches and shoulder pain.

Emotional Stress

When stressed, people often tighten their neck muscles unconsciously. Tension accumulates causing pain and spasms.

  • Stress hormones like cortisol signal muscles contract as part of the fight-or-flight response.
  • People commonly hold stress in the upper trapezius, levator scapulae, and sternocleidomastoid muscles at the back and sides of the neck.

How Traction and Stretching Reduce Neck Tension

Traction is the key to how the Neck Hammock provides relief from the root causes above. Lying back with the neck gently pulled provides both traction and stretching.

Traction Decompresses the Spine

Spinal traction is a proven technique doctors use to take pressure off compressed vertebrae and discs. It provides space for herniated material to retract back into discs, reducing irritation of nerves.

With the hammock, gravity provides a sustained vertical traction pull to gently separate vertebrae, relieve disc compression, and take pressure off pinched nerves.

Here’s how it impacts key spinal structures:

  • Dehydrated discs are allowed to rehydrate and regain lost height as pressure is removed.
  • Herniated disc material or osteophyte bone spurs retract back into position taking pressure off nerve roots.
  • Facet joints are distracted, reducing arthritis pinch on nerves.
  • The intervertebral foramen passages where nerves exit are widened.
  • The spinal canal space is increased, lessening impingement.

Stretches Neck Muscles and Soft Tissues

The hammock provides a gentle stretch throughout the neck muscles and soft tissues. This releases over-tightness and spasms from strained muscles and trigger points.

Gentle stretching increases flexibility in the neck, shoulders, and upper back. Over time muscle tension is relieved.

Key soft tissue structures elongated include:

  • Tight muscles like the levator scapula, upper trapezius, and SCM are gently taken to their full length.
  • Rhomboids and scalene muscles connect to the vertebrae and the skull stretches and relaxes.
  • The ligamentum nuchae running the neck’s length is extended, realigning the cervical curve.

Relaxes Nervous System

The weightless floating sensation of the hammock calms the mind-body system. The nervous system hyperarousal is soothed. This reduces unconscious tension and muscles can fully relax.

  • Sensory nerves stimulated by hammock motion send calming messages to the brain.
  • The parasympathetic nervous system is activated, slowing heart rate and lowering stress hormones.
  • Being cradled reduces muscle reflex reactions to neck irritation allowing full relaxation.

Improves Spinal Alignment

Ligaments relax, allowing vertebrae to slide back into proper alignment, easing pinched nerves and restabilizing the spine. The stretch can also gently realign the upper back and improve posture.

  • When relaxed in the hammock, tight sections can lengthen allowing vertebrae to find their optimal position.
  • With muscles relaxed, proper curvature is restored, taking pressure off compressed areas.
  • Floating retrains muscles to return the head to level, realigning the upper spine.

Restores Range of Motion

  • As muscles elongate and vertebrae realign, mobility improves. Users find it easier to turn their heads, allowing muscles and ligaments to move through their full range.
  • With decompression and realignment, joints glide smoothly restoring pain-free movement.
  • Ligaments and tendons lengthen, allowing the neck to tilt and turn in all directions.
  • Muscles strengthen and relearn proper motion patterns.

The traction component is key to relieving compressed nerves which the stretching alone cannot fix. But both elements are essential to release multiple causes of tension.

the using place of neck hammock

Optimal Use for Maximum Results

To leverage science fully, follow these best practices when using the Neck Hammock:

  • Hang the hammock at the proper height – Use the included extensions if needed, so your neck is aligned without tilting your head.
  • Start with light tension – Use the adjustable foot straps to provide only very gentle traction at first, especially if in pain.
  • Increase traction gradually over time – Slowly add more tension over several weeks as muscles strengthen and you get accustomed to the stretch.
  • Maintain neck alignment – Keep neck, head and spine neutral. Don’t let your head tilt or turn to the side.
  • Relax completely – Soften muscles consciously. Deep breathing helps circulation and relaxation.
  • Be patient and commit – Effects accumulate gradually with regular use as anatomy realigns. Allow 4-6 weeks to see big improvements.

Following this protocol allows you to gently decompress the layers of cervical anatomy – vertebrae, discs, nerves, muscles, and joints. With patience and daily use, alignment is restored and tension melts away.

The Neck Hammock Protocol for Lasting Relief

Based on science, here is an effective protocol for using the Neck Hammock to alleviate neck tension:

  • Use it for 10-20 minutes once or twice daily. This provides enough sustained traction for discs to decompress without overdoing it.
  • Start with light tension and increase gradually over 4-6 weeks. This allows the neck to adapt slowly.
  • Use after activities that aggravate neck pain from muscle strain. Traction helps muscles relax.
  • Use at the onset of tension headache to possibly halt its progression by decompressing nerves and relaxing muscles before they enter full spasm.
  • Continue use after acute pain subsides to maintain alignment and flexibility.
  • Discontinue use if you feel any numbness or nerve tingling and consult a doctor.
  • Perform neck stretches and exercises on other days to enhance flexibility.
  • Committing to this progressive protocol will provide cumulative relief from multiple causes of neck tension.

The Neck Hammock vs. Risky Alternatives

The gentle, natural traction of the Neck Hammock contrasts sharply with risky medical procedures also intended to decompress the neck.

Traction Devices

Overly-aggressive mechanical traction devices are used in some clinics and chiropractic offices. But this forceful pulling can overstretch muscles and strain joints.

The Neck Hammock allows you to control the degree of traction yourself. And it decompresses by using your body weight in a natural position rather than mechanical force.

Spinal Surgery

In severe cases of disc herniation, spinal fusion surgery may be recommended. But this highly invasive solution with a long recovery offers no guaranteed improvement.

The Neck Hammock is worth trying before considering the risks of surgery and permanent loss of mobility from fused vertebrae. It has helped many users avoid surgery.

Epidural Steroid Injections

Injecting steroids around irritated spinal nerves has risks of side effects. And evidence shows any pain relief is temporary as the underlying cause remains.

The Neck Hammock treats the root cause by continuously decompressing and realigning the spine. Relief can build over weeks and last for years.

Understanding science makes clear why properly using the Neck Hammock is a smarter first choice than medical procedures in many cases.

Tailoring the Hammock for Your Condition

  • The versatility of the Neck Hammock allows you to tailor your treatment program based on your specific condition and symptoms.
  • For disk herniation, focus on traction to retract and decompress the vertebrae, taking pressure off nerves.
  • For strained muscles, use lighter traction but sustain the stretch for longer to release spasms and myofascial trigger points.
  • If mobility is reduced from stiff joints, perform gentle rotations and side bends with light traction to improve joint play.
  • For postural issues, optimize alignment in the hammock to gently retrain muscles into better head and neck positioning.
  • Combine targeted traction and stretching with ergonomic changes, exercises, and stress reduction for multi-modal relief.

Integrate with Other Therapies

  • Using the Neck Hammock as part of a broader treatment program enhances and sustains its benefits.
  • Apply heat or ice before and after hammock sessions to relax muscles and increase circulation.
  • Get massage therapy to release myofascial trigger points the traction may not reach.
  • See a physiotherapist for neck exercises that strengthen and stabilize.
  • Visit a chiropractor occasionally for manipulations after the spine has been decompressed.
  • Improve posture and ergonomics with props to avoid re-injury.
  • Reduce stress through yoga, meditation, or whatever activities relax you.
  • Continuing these therapies makes the improvements from the hammock more lasting.

using neck hammock

Give Your Neck the Relief it Needs

Now that you understand the anatomy and science of how neck tension develops and how the Neck Hammock alleviates it naturally, you can be fully confident in this solution.

Why leave your neck tight, painful and crooked? Use the power of spinal traction and stretching to gently realign your cervical spine and finally get lasting relief.

Your relaxed, happy neck awaits!



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