Neck pain and stiffness impacts millions of people each year and is the fourth leading cause of disability. In addition, nearly 50% of those who deal with neck pain continue to experience neck pain symptoms for an extended period of time.
With so many individuals who experience neck pain, it’s essential to find a way to effectively manage neck pain symptoms, alleviate pain when it arises, and improve range of motion. Stretches can be an effective method of alleviating some of the stiffness that can cause neck pain or make moving your head difficult.
Before beginning any stretching or exercise program, consult with a qualified healthcare professional or licensed physical therapist who can educate you on the proper method to perform stretches or exercises which can help to alleviate your neck pain.
Take a look at some of the stretches for neck pain we’ve highlighted below that will help you improve your range of motion, alleviate stiffness, and reduce neck pain when it arises.
This stretch will help to alleviate some of the tightness that can cause discomfort. To begin this stretch, you’ll want to be looking straight ahead. At a controlled pace, gently lower your chin forward and toward your chest to look downward. Focus on a controlled movement while only moving your head. While looking at the ground, hold the stretch for five seconds and return to the starting position.
Turning your neck from side to side can be a challenge for those who experience neck pain or stiffness. For this stretch, you’ll want to be standing or sitting up straight with your back straight and shoulders relaxed. While looking forward, begin to slowly turn your head to one side as far as it can naturally go, hold the position for several seconds, and then return to the starting position. Complete the same maneuver for the opposite side and return to the starting position once more.
Lateral neck flexion stretches involve gently bending your neck side to side. For this stretch, you’ll once again want to be looking straight ahead. While performing this stretch, you’ll want to keep the shoulders and back relaxed and still. At a controlled pace, you’ll want to begin slowly bending your head to one side of your shoulders. Bend your neck to the side as far as it can comfortably go without discomfort, hold the position for several seconds, and then return to the starting position looking forward. Repeat this stretch on the opposite side you started on once more and then return to the starting position.
Neck stiffness and discomfort can also stem from tightness in your shoulders. A simple shoulder roll stretch can also help to alleviate some of the underlying tension that could be causing you to experience neck pain. To perform this stretch properly, you’ll want to be standing with your arms comfortably at your side and your shoulders relaxed. From this starting position, you’ll want to raise your shoulders up and move them in a forward circular motion for several repetitions. Rest for ten to fifteen seconds, return to the starting position, and repeat shoulder rolls in a backward motion for several repetitions before returning to the starting position.
For this stretch, you’ll work to alleviate some of the tension in your upper back, shoulders, and posture issues which can also be causing stiffness in your neck. Lie facedown on the ground either on a mat, carpet, or a comfortable surface. Bring up your arms and place both palms of your hands on the back of your head without interlocking your fingers. Keep your elbows pointed out to your sides and your palms facing towards the back of your head. From this starting position, go ahead and extend your arms out so that your upper body forms the shape of a Y as you extend your arms.
From this position, go ahead and bring your arms back down by circling them towards your sides while keeping your palms facing down towards the ground. Once you bring your arms down to your sides, rotate your wrist to flip your hands over to have your palms facing towards the ceiling and bring your arms into the center of your back. Hold this position for several seconds and reverse the entire maneuver until you’re back in the starting position with your hands behind your head and palms facing downward.
Repeat this stretch several times and focus on keeping a controlled pace with steady movements.
Physical therapy can be an effective treatment method for individuals who experience chronic neck pain or neck stiffness. Our physical therapists use manual therapy techniques in combination with movement-based exercises and stretches to help you reduce the discomfort that can stem from chronic neck pain. A licensed physical therapist can work with you to develop a comprehensive treatment program based on your unique needs and goals to help you alleviate neck pain and get back to doing the things you love pain-free.
Schedule an appointment today at a nearby physical therapy clinic to work with a physical therapist who can help you alleviate neck pain.