Neck Pain Stretches and Exercises

Neck pain relief stretches and exercises blog banner

The neck or cervical spine is made out of 7 vertebrates that run from the base of your skull to the mid region of your back (thoracic spine). Each vertebrate works together to allow your head to rotate, twist and move forwards and backwards. Between these vertebrates are disks that absorb shock from sudden movements. Bones, ligaments, and muscles in your neck provide support for your head and allows you to move. These tissues can become stiff or strained over time when we don’t use it properly, which is a common cause of neck pain. Neck pain stretches will help reduce tension in your upper back and lats.

Common Causes of Neck Pain

Pain in your neck can be caused by a variety of different reasons. Some common causes are:

  • Poor posture.
  • Sleeping in a bad position.
  • Prolonged sitting/standing.
  • Injury that forces your neck beyond its normal range of motion.  

It’s common to experience neck pain that lasts a few days. You should see a doctor if the pain persists for more than a week without a known cause or if accompanied by severe symptoms like vomiting, fever etc.


Stretches for Neck Pain to Loosen up Tight Muscles

Doing neck stretches regularly can help reduce muscle tension and pain. You can do these stretches while seated or standing. Be sure to maintain a good posture, your head should be directly over your shoulders and your back straight.

Warming up for Neck Pain Stretches

Doing a quick neck warm up first will allow your neck muscles to move more easily when performing the stretches and exercises.

Side Rotation (Left and Right)

Turn your head left and right. Repeat 10 times.

Head Tilt (Up and Down)

Tilt your head up and down. Repeat 10 times.

Side Head Tilt (Ear to Shoulder)

Tilt your ear from shoulder to shoulder. Repeat 10 times.

Half Head Rolls

Start with one ear on your shoulder, then rotate so that the other ear touches the other shoulder. Roll your head back and forth. Repeat 10 times.

Full Head Rolls

Start with one ear on your shoulder and rotate 360 degrees in one direction. Repeat 2 times in each direction.


Static Stretch Routine for Neck Pain

Do these neck stretches and exercises everyday to help release tension. Gently apply pressure with your hand where needed. You can stretch out your neck in different ways by how you tilt your head. Tilting your head acts as an anchor to allow you to target different muscles in your neck. Hold each stretch for 10-20 seconds.

Look Down

  • Clasp your hands behind your head.
  • Tilt your head down and gently press on your head until you feel a gentle stretch in the back of your neck.
  • Hold for 10-20 seconds.
  • Look down to the left, hold for 10-20 seconds.
  • Then look down to the right, hold for 10-20 seconds.

Look Up

  • Place one hand under your chin.
  • Tilt your head up and gently press on your chin until you feel a gentle stretch in the front of your neck.
  • Hold for 10-20 seconds
  • Look up to the left, hold for 10-20 seconds.
  • Look up to the right, hold for 10-20 seconds.

Anchored Side Head Tilt

  • Place your right hand on your head.
  • Tilt your head towards the right shoulder.
  • Rest your the other arm behind your back. 
  • Gently press your right hand down on your head until you feel a gentle stretch on the opposite side of the next.
  • Hold for 10-20 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
  • Look down towards the ground, hold for 10-20 seconds.
  • Look up towards the ceiling, hold for 10-20 seconds.

Handcuff Neck Stretch

  • Turn and sit sidewards on a chair.
  • Sit up tall, place both arms behind your back.
  • Grab onto your left wrist with your right hand. 
  • Gently pull on your wrist as you lean your head towards the right.
  • Hold for 10-20 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

Shoulder Rolls

This exercise helps to stabilize and release tension in your upper back and neck muscles. Focus on drawing large circles with your shoulders as you rotate forwards and backwards.

  • Roll your shoulders forwards 5 times.
  • Roll your shoulders backwards 5 times. Allow your elbows to move freely.

Conclusion

It’s very common to experience the occasional neck pain. Tense muscles around your neck is often caused by poor posture, overuse or sudden movements. Neck pain is often accompanied by stiffness in the upper back muscles. Although neck stretches are very easy to do, your neck is vulnerable to injury. Remember to always be gentle and breath when you are stretching. 

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