Neck pain occurs due to a number of causes ranging from structural problems in your spine to bad posture, repetitive motions, profession, and many others. You’ve probably experienced pain and discomfort followed by stiffness, soreness, and headache at one point or another. Pain in the neck affects a person’s quality of life due to a limited range of motion, but there’s a lot you can do eliminate* it. The best way to ease the pain is to do neck pain exercises and this article features eight suggestions.
Which Exercise is Good for the Neck Pain?
To most people exercise for neck pain seems counterproductive and the last thing you want is to move more than necessary. A growing body of evidence confirms beneficial effects of exercises for neck pain relief. For instance, a study whose findings were published in the Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine discovered that neck stabilization exercises improve* pain disability outcomes.
A separate research, published in the BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, found that high-intensity strength training reduces* neck (and shoulder) pain, and it increases* the range of motion. As you can see, science proved that different forms of physical activity help alleviate pain. Different types of exercises are effective for neck pain, but here we’re going to focus on those that you can easily perform, regardless of your fitness level and expertise.
1. Chin tuck
Chin tuck is a simple exercise for neck pain and belongs to the group of the most effective maneuvers you can do. The exercise strengthens muscles and pulls the head back in the alignment over the shoulders. Chin tuck also stretches scalene (a group of three pairs of muscles in the lateral neck) and suboccipital muscles (a group of four muscles located underneath the occipital bone).
In order to perform this exercise you should stand against a door jamb making sure your feet are about three inches from the bottom of the door jamb, and:
- Pull the upper back and head backward until your head touches the door jamb
- Stay in that position for five seconds
- Do 10 reps
When you get used to performing this exercise, you’ll find it easy to do it even when you’re sitting and won’t need to stand against the door jamb.
2. Static extension position
The exercise allows your head to come forward and by allowing it to hang while keeping elbows locked out while as shoulder blades collapse together, you get to unlock the shoulder girdle which is probably stuck in forward or perforated position. Static extension position also allows you to reposition the spine and hips into extension, thus helping alleviate pain. Here’s how to do this exercise:
- Start on all fours with wrists under shoulders and knees under the hips
- Walk the hands out about six inches in the front of you
- Shift the body forward in a way that shoulders stack over the wrists
- At this point, your knees will be about six inches in front of the knees
- Ensure the elbows are locked out straight while allowing shoulder blades to collapse
- Allow your head to hang and release your stomach
- Allow your back to arch
- Stay in this position for two minutes without letting your elbows bend
3. Prone cobra
Prone cobra is one of more advanced neck exercises whose purpose is to strengthen your muscles in the shoulder girdle, neck, and upper back area. In order to perform the exercise, you should start by lying on the ground face-down and:
- Place the arms at your sides with palms down on the ground
- Press your tongue on the roof of the mouth
- Try to pinch shoulder blades together
- Lift your hands off the ground
- Roll the elbows in with palms out and thumbs up
- Lift the forehead about an inch off the ground
- Stay in this position for 10 seconds
- Do 10 reps
For comfort, you should put a towel under your forehead. Also, when you lift your head off the ground, avoid tipping it back.
4. Static back
Static back exercise places your head into the same level as your shoulders. As a result, muscles of the neck and upper back area release which alleviates pain. It’s easy to do this exercise for neck pain, here’s how:
- Lie on the ground with legs on an ottoman or chair, your knees should be at 90 degrees angle
- Place arms on the ground at shoulder level or 45 degrees angle
- Make sure your palms are facing up
- Stay in this position 5-10 minutes
5. Seated neck release
Seated neck release is a stretch exercise that targets both sides of the neck. The exercise doesn’t put too much pressure on your neck, while it helps alleviate the pain. Here’s how to do it:
- Sit on the ground in a cross-legged position
- Extend your right arm next to the right knee
- Place left hand on the top of the head
- Slowly tilt your head to the left
- Apply a pressure gently with your hand to increase* the stretch
- Hold on this side for 30 seconds, then repeat with the other side
You can also perform this exercise while sitting on a chair with feet firmly on the ground.
6. Back burn
This is a postural exercise that strengthens back muscles and decreases* neck pain. If you bear in mind that neck pain can occur due to bad posture, it’s of huge importance to do this exercise too. Here are the instructions:
- Start in the same position as the chin tuck exercise
- Try flattening the lower back against the wall
- Place your forearms, elbows, and back of hands and fingers on the wall
- Ensure wrists are at the shoulder height
- Gradually slide the hands above your head making sure it should touch the wall the whole time
- Slide hands slowly back down
- Do 10 reps about three to five times a day
7. Behind the back neck exercise
This is a simple stretch exercise that you can do just about anywhere and, thus, alleviate pain in your neck. In order to the exercise, you should:
- Stand up straight with feet hip-width apart and arms are by your sides
- Reach both hands behind your back
- Hold a left wrist with right hand
- Try to slightly straighten the left arm and slightly pull it away from the body
- Stay in this position for 30 seconds and switch sides
8. Sitting floor
Sitting floor is a simple exercise that activates the muscles of your shoulders and upper back to keep your spine and shoulders in the right place. This helps relieve neck pain and increases* the range of motion. Here are the instructions:
- Sit on the ground with back against the wall and feet hip-width apart
- Pull the shoulder blades together
- Tightens your thighs
- Pull the toes back
- Ensure your feet are straight and head is touching the wall
- Stay in the position for three minutes
How do I Stop the Pain in my Neck?
Besides exercises, there are many other things you can do to alleviate pain in your neck. A combination of exercise and other methods works the best to increase* the range of motion and ease discomfort. Here are some useful things you can do tackle neck pain:
- Always make sure your posture is right
- Apply warm compresses to alleviate stiffness and ice packs to numb the pain
- Stay hydrated
- Try using a different pillow, the one that supports spine’s natural alignment
- Sleep on your back if you can
- Ensure the computer monitor is at eye level
- Get a massage
- Consider acupuncture
- Do water aerobics
Neck pain is a common and frustrating occurrence, but you can manage it successfully. A combination of exercise and lifestyle adjustments is the best way to deal with this problem. This article listed eight simple neck pain exercises that activate your spine and shoulders to release tension and alleviate discomfort.