The Complete Guide to Neck Traction at Home (& Best Neck Stretchers)
Neck traction, also known as cervical traction, is an amazing drug-free method to relieve neck pain for anyone suffering from neck arthritis, herniated/bulging disc in the neck, neck strains and cervical muscle spasms.
These days you don’t have to go to a physical therapist for neck traction.
You can do home neck traction just as effectively and safely – as long as you learn how to do it and which device is best for you.
- 1 What is Cervical Traction and How Does it Work?
- 2 How to Do Neck Traction at Home (Or Anywhere Else)
- 3 Neck Traction at Night
What is Cervical Traction and How Does it Work?
In traction, the goal is to provide the opportunity for your neck muscles and pinched nerves to be released.
Tension is placed on the head to pull it up and away from the neck, stretching the muscles and ligaments around the vertebrae of the spine and expanding the space between the vertebrae.
For many people, neck traction equipment provides fast neck pain relief – without medication – and a faster recovery from neck injuries.
Now everything is in place and the awful pain and stiffness can be dramatically reduced. And all of this is done without medication and unnecessary surgeries.
How to Do Neck Traction at Home (Or Anywhere Else)
You can basically choose from 3 types of neck traction home units. They can get you about the same results but they are very different.
Since it can be a little complicated, I’ll try to simplify this for you as much as I can:
1. Air Neck Traction Devices
Air neck traction devices are basically inflated neck braces. You secure them around your neck and use the pump to inflate them.
As the pillow gets filled with air, it straightens takes the weight off your neck and pushes down your shoulders.
You use the pump to gradually raise the level of air to a comfortable stretch. Your muscles relax and your discs are aligned and ready to re-hydrate. You are also taking the pressure off your nerves and blood vessels of course.
Air Neck Traction Pros
- Air neck traction devices are easy to use, require no assembly and are completely portable. You can easily take them anywhere and use them at the office or while traveling. You can use them while sitting or lying down, however you’d like.
- They are portable units.
- Not all air neck traction devices are made of high-quality materials. One unit I had started leaking after I’ve used it for only 6 times, so you really have to know which ones are the best (see below).
- Another disadvantage is that they can apply a bit too much pressure on your TMJ since the pillow inflates around the jaw as well.
✅ The Best Air Neck Traction Device WINNER
Since I want to prevent you from wasting your money, here is the highest quality air neck traction device (through my research)
2. Over the Door Neck Traction
Over the door neck traction devices require, as hinted in the name, a door. They require some assembly because you have to place them over the back of a door.
The over the door traction device requires for you to place straps around the back of your head and your chin (see the picture above).
You tighten the strap to stretch your neck by using either a water bag (not recommended) or by pulling down a cord (like in the Neckpro device).
Over the Door Neck Traction Pros
- An over the door device if fairly easy to use once you’ve placed correctly and made sure the door is solid. You can then sit comfortably on a chair and read something while traction works its magic.
- Over the door devices are less portable than air neck devices. You’ll need a solid door and a chair to use it and you can’t lie down and relax.
- It can take some time to find the right stretch and your chin may take the brunt of the traction force.
- But, it still gives you the same benefits and if you use it correctly it can bring you great neck pain relief.
** I would not recommend using the water bag units, because they are harder to control.
✅ The BEST Over the Door Traction Device WINNER
My highest recommendation goes to:
3. Posture Pumps
Posture pumps are usually a bit pricier than the above two, but they are worth every cent in my humble opinion.
Posture pump units are well-built and are heavy-duty pieces of quality durable medical equipment.
- Posture pumps are larger, provide stronger traction and are made with durable material. They are light and portable and come in a handy carrying case.
- They require no assembly and have a softer, more comfortable head pad and straps.
You simply lie down, adjust the little knob/posts that secure the base of your skull and place the strap on your forehead. Then you just pump up the pressure and tighten.
Posture Pump Pros
- Posture pumps are usually sturdier, made with more durable materials and work with no problems for years.
- They don’t use pillows that can leak air and they don’t need a door to support them.
- They all have a handy carrying bag that protects them if you want to take them with you anywhere.
- They don’t put pressure on your jaw or anywhere other than where it should be.
- Portable and fit for travel
- These units are less portable than the air neck traction devices, and they take up a bit more room. You can only use them lying down.
- The price is higher, but in my opinion – Well worth it. Especially if you consider the money you are saving on dozens of chiropractor treatments.
If you’re not sure about posture pumps, consider using an inversion table. See our full comparison between the posture pump and the inversion table, to decide what’s best for your needs.
✅ The BEST Posture Pump WINNER
Here are our two most recommended posture pumps for 2017:
👉Update: I’ve just finished my detailed review for the Comfortrac Cervical Traction Unit – check it out HERE.
See our full review for the Saunders HERE.
We also recommend…The Cervical Posture Pump
Neck traction at home should only be done after making sure, with your doctor, that it’s safe for you.
If you’ve already had a neck surgery, it’s not recommended to do neck traction at home.
Do not overdo traction, because it can cause more harm than good and over stretch your neck.
Follow instructions carefully and ask your doctor and treatment time and frequency per day.
Neck Traction at Night
If your neck pain is mostly caused by your sleeping position and comes usually at night or in the morning, a neck traction pillow can be your lifesaver.
Don’t forget to see our post about how to choose the best neck traction pillow.
What do you think about neck traction? Do you have any concerns? positive or negative experience?
To your health and happiness,
The Back Pain Relief Products Team