You call something that’s annoying you a “pain-in-the-neck” for a reason. Neck pain is the worst. It completely consumes you and can take you out of the game entirely, especially if you can’t turn your head. So here are some neck pain relief exercises (and stretches) whether you’re recovering from neck pain or just want to prevent it. And remember… don’t do any of these exercises unless your doctor says it’s ok, and you don’t have severe neck pain or weakness in your hands or arms. Also, stop exercising immediately if any of this pain starts to occur. (source)
- Neck Tilts
Front tilt. This is a great exercise to begin with that warms up and stretches your neck.
- From a sitting or standing position, look forward, and tilt your head down so your chin touches your chest.
- Hold your chin there for 5 seconds.
- Lift your head and repeat this 5 times.
Side to side tilt.
- Looking forward again, tilt your head to one shoulder, leading with your ear.
- Tilt slightly only until you feel a stretch the opposite side of your neck—not until you feel discomfort.
- Hold the stretch for 5 seconds.
- Lift your head and repeat this 5 times on each side.
Neck tilts can be done anywhere… on the couch or when you’re stopped in your car at a traffic light. Do these throughout the day as well as before the next exercises to keep your neck loose and release tension.
- Seated Clasping Neck Stretch
Once you’ve begun to warm up your neck muscles with the neck tilts above, this will give you a deeper stretch for the back of your neck and upper spine.
- While seated in a chair, clasp your hands and bring both palms to the back of your head.
- Sit with a tall spine and ground your hips firmly to your seat.
- Gently pull your chin down to your chest and away from your shoulders.
- Hold here for at least 30 seconds, and then slowly lift your head up and release your hands.
- Do this 1-3 times.
- Quadruped T-Spine Rotation
This exercise/stretch addresses your mid and lower spine. You should also feel this stretch in your shoulders, which are also good points of tension relief for your neck.
- Get on all fours and place your hands shoulder-width apart with your elbows slightly bent and your knees hip-width apart.
- Put one hand behind your head and then lift your bent elbow and head up to the side, looking up slightly and opening up your body.
- Lower your bent elbow and head.
- It’s important that your elbow and head move together in one continuous movement (i.e. your head isn’t turning at a faster rate than your elbow is moving).
- Repeat this movement 10-20 times on each side.
- Front Plank on Table
According to Harvard Medical School, it’s important to focus on your core if you want to relieve and prevent neck pain. "If your core muscles aren't strong, your neck and shoulder muscles will be overworked," Dr. Kotler says. "Once you strengthen your core muscles, everything falls into line a little better." she explains. Here is a recommended core exercise to help support your spine and neck.
- Stand facing a table that is roughly waist-high with your feet together.
- Tighten your stomach muscles and lower your upper-body weight onto your forearms on the table.
- Clasp your hands together and align your shoulders directly over your elbows.
- Lift your heels so that you’re standing on the balls of your feet, and you’re back is straight. Hold this for 15 to 60 seconds.
- Straight Leg Raises
We’re stealing this one from a previous blog post. This exercise also helps strengthen your core.
- Sit in a chair with your legs bent at a 90-degree angle in front of you with your feet flat on the ground.
- Straighten your left leg with both knees next to each other and your left foot now off the ground.
- Raise your left leg a little more, still straightened, just 1-3 inches up for a few seconds and then bring your left heal slowly back to the ground.
- Repeat this leg raise about 10-20 times, depending on your comfort level.
- For a more intense exercise, leave your foot raised between each lift.
- Repeat with your right leg.
- Do the entire cycle 1-2 more times.
This exercise may be challenging, but it should not cause pain in your hip or knee. If it does, see your physical therapist or doctor.
Do these neck stretches and exercises a few times per week, and you should start noticing more mobility and relief from your neck pain.
And remember, muscle stretches and exercises are just part of the equation when it comes to pain relief. Using Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) therapy, Oska Pulse is clinically proven to relieve pain. You can strap it on or near your point of pain while you're working, exercising, or doing many of the activities that you love.