You may not realize how much you use your neck until your neck starts to hurt. If you turn around and experience
stingOr if you’re facing a dull ache that won’t go away, doing some neck exercises will help save time in the day – and return that stress hotspot back to its former glory.
The benefits of neck exercises are the same as what you would expect from doing them
those that target other parts of the body – including increased strength, muscle endurance, improved range of motion, and pain relief, says Helen Goldstein, DPT, NASM-CPT, a physiotherapist with FlexIt. As an added bonus, neck exercises can improve your posture and release work-related aches and painslike the kind you might experience after sitting at a desk all day, Goldstein explains.
While you may have a strained or sore neck for a number of reasons, Goldstein notes that the common culprit is
maintain poor or inappropriate alignment in the long run of time (think tilt your head forward). “ Strengthen and lengthen the neckcombined with do the same for muscles in the surrounding areas [like the shoulders and upper back]can help correct your posture and thus reduce the pain you may experience,” she tells Bustle.
Tony Matoska, PT, DPT, CMPTa physical therapist with Physiotherapy Athleticosays your neck pain should start to go away once you start exercising, as long as you stick with it. “Light stretches can be done as many times a day as needed,” he tells Bustle, while strength training can be done two to three times per week. To get started, pick up a few exercises from the list below and hope that those aches and pains won’t be such a pain in the neck.
Chin exercises help
improve poor postureGoldstein explained, while gently stretching the string upper cervix the back of your neck.
– Stand with your back to the wall.
Pull your head straight back to try to touch the back of your head against the wall.
– Make sure you don’t tilt your head up, but instead tuck your chin in to create a “double chin”.
– Hold for three seconds, then relax.
– Repeat 10 times.
Do 5 to 7 sets during the day, especially if you work on the computer.
Stretch Trapezius On
Goldstein also likes this move to ease
trapezius, aka chronically overactive muscles in the neck and shoulders. She says it can get strained if you sit with your shoulders up and high, or if you try to do biceps curls with too heavy dumbbells.
Stand tall, with your shoulders back.
Bring your right hand behind your back with your elbow bent to put your shoulder blades in place.
While still looking and nose forward, gently tilt your head toward your left shoulder.
Breathe steadily and make sure you don’t raise your left shoulder towards your left ear.
Instead, make sure your left ear moves down toward your left shoulder.
Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat the exercise with the other side.
Matoska recommends this exercise for neck and upper back pain relief. Do it a few times a week, it will help strengthen the muscles you need for good posture.
With your back against the wall, put your feet forward about a step.
Keep your hips, back and head against the wall.
– Place your arms against the wall at shoulder height with your elbows bent so your hands are facing the ceiling.
– Keep everything in contact with the wall as you slide your arms up as high as you can while trying to straighten them.
Slide your arms down behind and press your elbows down to your sides while still making full contact with the wall.
– Repeat 10 to 15 repetitions.
Do 2 to 4 sets.
Open the book
For this exercise, imagine that you are extending your arms like the pages of a book. “It’s great for your neck, upper back, and chest, which often get tight after sitting for a long time,” says Matoska.
– Start by lying on your side.
Rest your head on a pillow for support.
Keep your knees stacked and bent, so that they are just below your hip level.
Gently turn your head and extend your upper arm.
– Rotate until you feel a stretch. Make sure you breathe deeply throughout the swing.
– Hold for one to two seconds at the end range before returning to the starting position.
Do 20 to 30 reps, then repeat on the other side.
Four-legged chin stroller
Matoska says this posture correcting exercise will help relieve tension and pain in the neck and upper back.
Start with your hands and knees with your hands directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips.
– Press your hands into the floor to place the shoulder blades.
Hold that position and pull your chin so that your neck is parallel to the floor.
– Hold for 5 to 10 seconds while breathing and release.
Do 10 to 20 repetitions.
– Repeat 2 to 4 sets.
Next, wellness coach
Lesline Pitmann recommends doing gentle neck rolls to lengthen shortened muscles. “This exercise lasts sternocleidomastoid musclerelieves neck pain and headaches,” she tells Bustle.
Sit with good posture in a chair or on the floor.
– Drop the left ear to the left shoulder. Tuck your jaw.
– Bring your chin to your chest.
– Drop the right ear to the right shoulder.
– Tilt your head back slightly.
– Repeat the reels 1 to 5 times.
Ryan Todd Lloyd, DC, suggests combining several exercises into this one move, which he calls a kickball exercise. “These exercises aim to move the joints in the cervical spine at the same time , as well as actively strengthening the neck muscles through the full range of neck motion,” he tells Bustle.
– Place an 8.5 inch soccer ball against the wall.
Use the back of your head to hold the ball to the wall.
– Press on the ball for 3 seconds of flexibility, then release for 3 seconds of stretching.
– Next, move the ball towards the side of your neck.
– Tap the ball for 3 seconds. Do both sides.
– Finish by pressing the ball with your forehead.
– Press for 3 seconds then release.
During each move, focus on the sensation of your muscles being activated.
This exercise, from
Mara Kimowitza stretch specialist and founder StretchSource and Durability Pliability StretchAcademyfeel really good if you have neck pain.
– Start with your hand on a table, desk or counter.
-Leave your feet comfortably hip-width apart and knees slightly bent.
– For the “cat” phase, tuck your navel into your spine so your spine begins to curve like a rainbow. Allow your chin to touch down and toward your chest.
– Inhale and exhale a full breath.
– Return to the starting position.
– For the “crawling” phase, arch your back and look up at the ceiling. Create tension and opening through your collarbone and chest.
– Inhale and exhale a full breath.
– Return to the starting position.
Repeat as needed to keep tension and pressure off your head and neck.
If you do these exercises regularly, you will start to feel better.
Dawn Riversa yoga instructor and owner of Dawn yoga. “The thing to remember is that it takes time and consistency to notice a difference in posture and feel less pain.” Here’s an easy one she suggests doing throughout the day if needed.
Sit up straight with your spine high.
Roll your shoulders forward and down toward your chest.
– Inhale as your shoulders go up and exhale as they go forward and down.
Do 3 to 4 reps before rolling your shoulders up and back.
– Again, inhale as the shoulders go up and exhale as they go back and down.
– Repeat 3 to 4 times.
As Rivers explains, these types of poses create short-term stress on the muscles, causing them to relax. “When we strengthen the muscles of the neck, such as the trapezius and
spine builder, if they are moved or moved differently than usual, they will grow stronger,” she said. Try this exercise for relief.
– Sit on the floor or in an elevated chair.
Bring your right hand to your left knee and place your left hand behind your body or on the back of a chair.
– Inhale to lengthen the spine.
Exhale, turn and look over your left shoulder.
Do this movement for 3 to 4 breathing cycles.
Return to neutral to allow the spine to rest for a moment before twisting to the opposite side.
Stand forward bend
Exercises like these help improve the range of motion in your neck,
Kim Trimmer, M.Ed., C-IAT, ERYT-500a yoga teacher, therapist and owner of InsideOut Yoga. In turn, that can reduce tension headaches.
Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder width, knees bent.
– Allow your head to drop forward, then your shoulders followed by your spine.
– Imagine you are leaning forward with your vertebrae.
– Roll back with the same intention.
– Do this three times.
On the third repetition, hold the forward position for 10 to 12 breaths.
– Let the head weigh. If the image works for you, imagine all the tension from your neck and shoulders draining into the ground.
– Repeat throughout the day to relieve stress.
Mahmoud, N. (2019). The relationship between head-up position and neck pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6942109/
Sal-o, PK. (2010). Effects of neck strength training on health-related quality of life in women with chronic neck pain: a 1-year randomized controlled follow-up study. Outcomes Quality of Life Health. PMID: 20465854; PMCID: PMC2877013. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2877013/
Helen Goldstein, DPT, NASM-CPT, Doctors physiotherapy
Tony Matoska, PT, DPT, CMPTphysical therapist
Lesline Pitmannwellness coach
Ryan Todd Lloyd, DCorthopedic
Mara Kimowitzskin tightening specialist
Dawn Riversyoga instructor
Kim Trimmer, M.Ed., C-IAT, ERYT-500yoga teacher, therapist
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