Have you ever had so much neck pain that you ended up walking like a robot for several hours?
Neck pain is quite common. This is because of the daily tasks we carry out, and because our neck muscles support our head almost all the time.
In this article, we outline a series of exercises that will help you mitigate the uncomfortable pain you feel in this area of the body.
Stress + Bad Posture = Neck Pain
Daily obligations and problems, together with sitting with a bad posture for several hours at work or at home, are the main factors that cause neck pain.
However, there are also illnesses that cause these symptoms. Nonetheless, our daily habits cause neck pain in the majority of cases.
The accumulation of tension in this area indicates unequal pressure put on our bones, tendons, nerves and muscles.
The longer it takes for us to address the problem, the more difficult it will be to resolve the issue. Our body compensates for imbalance by involving more tendons, bones and muscles involved to support our head, which is the neck’s function.
The good news is that you can stretch your neck and avoid this pain in areas such as the back of your neck, your shoulders, head or even your back.
Furthermore, it’s also important that you try to improve your posture while you’re sitting at your desk in front of the computer, while you’re watching the TV, or while you’re carrying bags.
Exercises to Mitigate Neck Pain
You can do these stretches at any time during the day, and you can do them even if you are not experiencing a lot of neck pain. In other words, this means that these exercises function as a palliative, as well as prevent neck pain.
If our muscles and tendons are strong, it will be harder for them to be susceptible to pain. We recommend that you follow this group of neck exercises and that you do them every day – they only take a few minutes – so you can resume your daily activities soon after finishing the exercises.
Before looking at the stretches that will help your neck, we should let you know that all the movements involved are slow and that you shouldn’t put too much pressure on the neck when doing them.
In addition, it’s best to warm up your neck and the surrounding areas of your body while doing these exercises. For instance, you can use heat pads or hot water on the area.
Finally, you should do 5 reps of each exercise.
Tilting Your Head from Side to Side
- Sit down in an upright position with your back supported by the back of the chair you’re sitting in.
- Place your hands on your knees.
- Turn your head to the right, as far as it can go.
- Try and keep your chin above shoulder level.
- Return to your original position and then move your head towards the left.
- Maintain each position for a couple of seconds.
Lateral Neck Flexion Stretch
In this exercise you start off in the same initial position mentioned in the last exercise. However, the goal in this exercise is to get your right ear as close as possible to your right shoulder.
Ideally, you should not lift up your arms or shoulders when doing this exercise. Furthermore, you should feel a little tension on your neck when you tilt your head. Make sure that you start off from the same position you started with when tilting your head to the left.
Forward and Backward Neck Stretch
- To do this exercise you need to be sitting down in a chair, which is not against a wall because this will make the movements difficult.
- Tilt your head backwards as if you’re looking up at the ceiling.
- Open your mouth a little so that there is no pressure on your jaw.
- Remember to keep your back straight.
- Return to the starting position and then tilt your head forward so that your chin is touching your chest, or is as close to it as it can reach.
- For the exercise to work you mustn’t slump your back.
As we’ve said before, when your neck hurts your shoulders are also affected. This exercise goes as follows:
- Start off in the same position stated in the previous exercises.
- Place your hands on your thighs or on your knees.
- Lift your shoulders up so that they touch your ears.
- Return to the beginning position and then lower your shoulders as much as you can.
Butterfly Neck “Stretch”
To do this exercise you need to lie down – it doesn’t matter if you’re lying on your bed, sofa or the floor.
- Put your hands on the back of your neck, like in the above picture, but clasp your hands together.
- Your elbows should be at the sides of your face.
- If you’re lying in a bed, lower your arms to your sides so that your elbows reach the mattress.
The Lotus Position
- Sit on the floor and cross your legs.
- If it’s possible, put both your feet on the opposite knee.
- Sit up very straight and maintain this position for several minutes.
When you first start doing this pose it might hurt quite a bit, but the pain will go away as you get used to it.
Some people put cushions under their glutes or underneath their knees to feel more comfortable in this position.
You can do all the previously mentioned exercises (except for the butterfly stretch) in this position. Furthermore, another exercise you can do adopting this pose is completely rotating your neck.
To do this, draw an imaginary circle with your neck. Your movements should be slow when completing this exercise.
Also, don’t forget to open your jaw when you tilt your head back.
Advice on How to Avoid Neck Pain
Besides doing these exercises everyday or periodically, there are also some other tips you can follow. These will help you to considerably reduce the pain you feel:
- When talking on the phone, hold it in your hand and don’t put it between your shoulder and your face.
- Use the back of your chair to fully support your back when you’re sitting at a desk or at table.
- Have your computer screen at eye level.
- Use an ergonomic pillow and sleep on your back.
- Bend your knees to help you pick things up from the floor.
- Change your position several times throughout your work day.
- Don’t carry bags that are too heavy. If you have no other option, avoid using your shoulders too much to carry them.