Six Exercises that May Help Relieve Neck Pain

These exercises only take a few minutes to complete and may help relieve neck pain. They can also help you relax, improve your posture, and reduce stress.
Six Exercises that May Help Relieve Neck Pain

Last update: 26 May, 2022

One recommendation for eliminating neck pain is to do a series of light exercises and stretching. These can help you with discomfort and provide some relief. You should only take pain relievers and anti-inflammatories if your doctor instructed you to.

Pain can happen because of stress, sudden movements, or injuries. People who spend a lot of time in the same position, like office workers, often have recurring neck pain.

Is your neck bothering you? Discover some exercises that can help!

Common causes of neck pain

Elderly woman touching her neck to relieve neck pain.

Daily obligations and stress, along with bad posture while sitting at home or working for hours, are the main causes of neck pain.

Although there are also illnesses that cause these symptoms, our daily bad habits cause neck pain in most cases.

Accumulation of tension in this area indicates unequal pressure on our bones, tendons, nerves, and muscles.

The longer it takes for us to address the problem, the more difficult it’ll be to solve the issue. Other related causes include:

  • Exposure to stressful situations.
  • Injuries or trauma.
  • Prolonged computer use.
  • Spinal abnormalities.
  • Arthritis and inflammatory diseases.

Read more: 6 Causes of Neck Pain You May Not Be Aware Of

Exercises that may help relieve neck pain

You can do these stretches and exercises at any time of day, and you can do them even if you aren’t experiencing a lot of neck pain. In other words, this means that these exercises work to relieve as well as reduce your risk of neck pain.

Before looking at the exercises that may help relieve neck pain, we should let you know that all the movements involved are slow and that you shouldn’t put too much pressure on your neck when you do 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. Lastly, you should do 5 reps of each exercise.

Tilt your head from side to side

A wman in red with glasses touching her neck.
  • 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 to keep your chin at shoulder level.
  • Return to your original position and then move your head to the left.
  • Maintain each position for a couple of seconds.

Lateral neck flexion stretch

Woman doing a 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 shouldn’t 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 you’re tilting your head to the left.

Forward and backward neck stretch

  • To do this exercise, you need to be sitting down in a chair that isn’t against a wall because this will make the movements difficult.
  • Tilt your head backward as if you’re looking up at the ceiling.
  • Open your mouth a little so that there’s 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.

Shoulder lifts

As we’ve already mentioned, 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 knees.
  • Lift your shoulders so that they touch your ears.
  • Return to the starting position and then lower your shoulders as much as you can.

Butterfly neck “stretch”

A woman at a kitchen counter drinking coffee and stretching her neck to relieve her neck pain.

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 picture above, 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.

Lotus Position

Woman doing Lotus position.
  • Sit on the floor and cross your legs.
  • If possible, put both feet on opposite knees. If not, don’t worry.
  • Sit up very straight and stay in this position for several minutes.

When you first start doing this pose it might hurt a bit, but it should get easier the more you get used to it. Some people put cushions under their glutes or underneath their knees to feel more comfortable while doing it.

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.

You should also read: Why is it Good to Practice Yoga?

Advice on how to avoid neck pain

Besides doing these exercises every day or periodically, there are also some other tips you can follow. These may help you considerably reduce or relieve neck pain:

  • 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 a table.
  • Have your computer screen at eye level.
  • Raise your headrest in the car.
  • Use an ergonomic pillow and sleep on your back.
  • Bend your knees to help you pick things up off the floor.
  • Change your position several times throughout your workday.
  • Don’t carry bags that are too heavy. If you have no other options, avoid using your shoulders too much to carry them.

Do you suffer from persistent neck pain? If you feel like your symptoms aren’t improving, talk to your doctor. Sometimes these problems require other tests and exams to figure out how to control it.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.