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If you’re looking to add heat for your neck as part of a self-care routine, there are many products available that can help. Wraps which use the chemical reaction of iron oxidation to generate heat when exposed to oxygen can be convenient, but the cost — and waste — of these disposable items can add up quickly, and if you unexpectedly run out you’ll have to make another trip to the store when you may not be feeling your best. Hot water bottles and general purpose heating pads are unwieldy, and aren’t a good fit for targeted relief. Instead, look for heating pads that drape around the front of your neck like a cloak or scarf, which often provide restful warmth to your neck, shoulders, and upper back. These excellent options each have unique features to help you unwind from the grind.
Electric heating pads are a great alternative to microwaveable and disposable heat pads. Look for pads that feature multiple settings from low to high, and enjoy a consistent level of heat for as a long as you would like to apply it to your body. Choose pads that shut off automatically after a period of time as an added safety measure, and make sure the cord is long enough both to reach an outlet from your favorite chair, and to give you some freedom to move around while seated without the cord getting in the way.
Reusable microwavable heating pads don’t require the user to be tethered to a cord in the vicinity of an electrical outlet, but there are some trade offs to consider. This type of pad is filled with materials that can range from rice or flaxseed to chemical gels, but lacks nuanced temperature control. People who don’t want to use disposable heating pads or corded models may find them more versatile (for example, if they can double as a cold pack), and a good option for applying heat for short stretches of time.
For some people, tension travels around the body. One day it’s your neck that feels taut and achy, and the next day it’s your back. Or maybe you might notice that targeting tension in your back helps you feel more relaxed in the shoulders. Selecting a large back heating pad with a collar is an option that still addresses your neck, but offers plenty of surface area to snuggle up and settle down for a much-needed break. Whatever heat pad you choose, just remember to follow your health professional’s guidance and read the included safety instructions to avoid irritation or burns.