Neck Pain Stretches You Can Do at Home

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Neck Pain Stretches You Can Do at Home

Pain in the neck is a lot more than just an expression for many people. Neck pain is one of the most common types of pain. A National Institute of Health Statistics survey found that neck pain was one of the top four pain complaints, according to the American Academy of Pain Medicine. The four most common types of pain conditions include:

  • Low back pain: 27 percent of people
  • Neck pain: 15 percent of people
  • Migraine: 15 percent of people
  • Facial pain: 4 percent of people

Neck pain is so common that 30 to 50 percent of people will experience some type of discomfort in that area on an annual basis, according to the International Association for the Study of Pain. Pain in this area can be strong enough to limit activity for 11 percent to 14 percent of the population at least once a year.

You are not alone in suffering from neck pain, and you can take action to manage and alleviate it.

Common Causes of Neck Pain

The first step in taking control of your pain is finding out the cause. Some of the biggest risk factors for neck pain include:

  • Middle age
  • Repetitive work
  • High-stress work
  • Previous injury in the neck or shoulders

Women are also more likely to experience neck pain than men.

Neck pain, while very uncomfortable and disruptive, is usually not a reason for alarm. Here are a few of the biggest culprits for pain in this area.

  • Strain. Strain is one of the biggest causes of nagging neck pain. People who spend the workday sitting at a desk and looking at a computer are prone to this kind of strain, but neck discomfort can be caused by even more subtle things. Something as simple as grinding or clenching your teeth or sleeping in the wrong position can trigger neck pain.
  • Acute injury. This may be the easiest cause to identify. For example, a recent car accident is likely to cause neck pain. Whiplash can cause significant strain in your neck muscles.
  • Worn down joints. People who have reached middle age are at a higher risk for neck pain than those of younger ages simply because of natural wear and tear on their joints. This degenerative condition is known as osteoarthritis.

While neck pain is common, be sure to monitor your symptoms. If you haven’t noticed any improvement for several days or more symptoms arise, talk to your physician. Your doctor can help you narrow down the cause and recommend effective treatments.

How to Treat and Prevent Neck Pain

Once you have determined the cause of your neck pain is a strain and not a more serious issue, there are plenty of ways you can address your discomfort. Try some basic at-home care, such as:

  • Using a heating pad or take a warm shower to apply warmth to the area
  • Using an icepack to apply cold to the affected area
  • Taking over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen sodium to help reduce pain and inflammation

risk factors for neck pain

If you are looking for some additional relief, you might even consider getting a massage from a trained professional.

While ice, heat and medication can help treat the neck pain you are experiencing, the old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” rings true. Here are few simple lifestyle changes you can try to keep neck pain at bay:

  • Avoid slouching. Slouching often feels more comfortable at the moment, but it actually puts a lot of strain on the muscles in your neck, not to mention your back and shoulders. Make a conscious effort to sit up straight without letting your head lean forward. Improved posture can have a significant impact on neck strain.
  • Break up long periods of sitting. Sitting all day long, which is unavoidable for many people, can wreak havoc on your neck. You are more prone to slump in your seat and place strain on your neck if you sit without any breaks. Try to break up your sitting schedule by standing up every 20 minutes or so. It could be simple as standing up and stretching. Alternatively, you could take a quick walk to grab a cup of coffee.
  • Evaluate your workstation. If you are someone who sits all day for work, take a look how you spend that time. Is your computer screen situated in a way that you don’t have to crane your neck to see? If not, adjust the monitor, so it rests at eye level. Does your chair provide enough back support, or are you slumping to find a comfortable position? Consider switching chairs or adding a pillow for additional lumbar support. Making sitting in an upright, supported position a habit can reduce your risk of experiencing neck pain.
  • Change pillows. How you sleep can have a big impact on how you feel when you wake up, particularly as you get older. If you are sitting up in bed reading or watching TV, remember to keep your neck in a neutral, relaxed position. Using a wedge-shaped pillow for your back can help you achieve the optimal position. When it comes to actually going to sleep, consider getting a cervical pillow. This type of pillow is specifically designed to support your neck.

Exercises for Neck Pain

Exercise is one of the most effective treatments for neck pain. Simple, at-home exercises can be a valuable tool in addressing your neck pain. Here are 12 of the best exercises for neck pain:

  • Side Stretch

    Side stretch is one the simplest neck exercises for neck pain. Start by standing up in a relaxed, but upright posture. Make sure your shoulders are in a neutral position. Slowly lean your head toward your right shoulder.

    Side stretch is one the simplest neck exercises for neck pain. Start by standing up in a relaxed, but upright posture. Make sure your shoulders are in a neutral position. Slowly lean your head toward your right shoulder.

  • Diagonal Stretch

    Diagonal neck stretch is another good exercise for neck pain. Start standing in a neutral, upright position, like you would for side stretch. Instead of leaning your head toward your shoulder, rotate your neck slightly to one side. Then lean your head toward your chest.

    You can use your hand to softly press your head down, deepening the stretch. Straighten your neck and twist it in the other direction to repeat the exercise. You can do this stretch several times on each side of your body.

  • Neck Drop

    The neck drop exercise can be done either sitting or standing — just make sure your back is in an upright position. Start with your neck in a neutral position. Then, slowly drop your chin toward your chest. Let it rest there for a moment before slowly raising it up back up. Then, gently drop your head backward and hold it there for a few moments.

    You can repeat this gentle backward and forward motion several times. Pause each time and hold the stretch when your head is tipped toward your chest and again when it is tipped back over your shoulders.

  • exercise to treat neck pain

  • Neck Rotation

    Neck rotation is one of the best neck pain cure exercises, particularly for discomfort that strikes the muscles that run down the sides of the neck. You can take a seat or remain standing. Keep your back and neck straight. Slowly move your head to the right side. Hold the stretch before returning your head to center. Then move your head to the left side and hold the stretch.

    You can sweep your head back and forth several times — just remember to stretch each side equally.

  • Neck Extension

    This is a strengthening exercise for your neck muscles. Begin with your head and neck in a neutral posture. Next, lace both of your hands behind your head. You will begin to move your head backward and look up. Use your hands to provide firm resistance to your head’s movement.

    You want your neck muscles to be putting in some real work. Extend your neck as far back as possible before returning to a neutral posture. Repeat this exercise several times.

  • Chin Moves

    You can sit or stand with a straight back for this posture-improving exercise. Release any tension you are holding in your jaw. Make a peace sign with your ring and middle finger. Place those fingers on your chin. Gently press your head backward. Remove your fingers and leave your head in that position for at least 20 seconds.

    Repeat the exercise several times. Chin moves help you to train your muscles for better posture. This movement places your ears over your shoulders, which is the ideal posture. Good posture can solve many issues related to neck pain.

  • Clasped Hands Stretch

    You will need to be standing for this exercise. Stand with your feet in line with your hips. Take both hands and clasp them behind your back. You will place one hand around the opposite wrist. Use this hand to pull gently on the wrist and lengthen that arm. You will feel the stretch in your neck and your shoulders.

    Continue to stretch gently in this pose for approximately 30 seconds. Release your arms. Next, switch which arm is doing the stretching. You can do this exercise multiple times on both sides of your body.

  • Downward Dog on the Wall

    This exercise is a variation of yoga’s downward dog, but you will need the assistance of a wall. Stand facing the wall and bring your hands to the wall at the same level as your waist. You want to be far enough away from the wall to keep your back completely straight. Also keep your neck straight and look down at the floor.

    You don’t have to worry about keeping your legs perfectly straight, however, especially if you feel like this exercise is putting a lot of strain on your hamstrings. You can bend your knees slightly.

    Press your palms into the wall and lift your hip bones toward the ceiling. This stretch can help with pain in both your neck and back.

  • Good posture solves neck problems

  • Shoulder Rolls

    Strain and tension in your shoulder muscles are closely linked to neck pain. Shoulder rolls help you work on building the muscles that keep your neck upright. First, sit down in a chair with a straight back or stand with your feet shoulder-distance apart. You will begin by rolling your shoulders forward in a smooth, circular motion.

    Repeat this several times before you reverse the direction of the shoulder rolls.

  • Chest Stretch

    The quality of your posture has a significant effect on how you hold your neck and the muscles that support it. You will be seated on the floor for this exercise, designed to help improve your posture. Sit with a straight back. Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands flat on the ground behind you. Draw your shoulder blades together, and push your chest up toward the ceiling. Your elbows might bend slightly.

    Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds. Repeat the stretch several times for maximum impact.

  • Upward Chest Stretch

    This exercise is considered a “heart opener” stretch in yoga. Sit on back on your heels on the ground. Lean your head back and look toward the ceiling. You will place your hands, palms down, behind you for support. Continue leaning your head back — you might even be able to see the wall behind you. You will feel this stretch in the muscles across your chest and even across your throat.

    Hold this stretch for 30 seconds. Then gently raise your head and chest back to a neutral position. Bridge Pose

  • Bridge Pose

    Bridge pose will be familiar to anyone who has ever practiced yoga. This exercise is great for stretching the muscles in your neck and back. You also have the ability to control how deep the stretch is by how you position your hips. To get into bridge pose, begin flat on your back. Next, bend your knees while leaving your feet flat on the ground and hip-distance apart. Lift your hips toward the ceiling while leaving your shoulders firmly planted on the ground. Grasp your hands together beneath your raised back and bottom.

    The further you raise your hips the more intense the stretch in your back and neck muscles. Hold this posture for at least 30 seconds. You can repeat the exercise multiple times.

add exercise to daily routine to treat neck pain

Specializing in Pain Management Treatments

Exercise has a cumulative effect. Try to make a few of these exercises a part of your daily routine. The more you do these exercises, the greater the benefit. You will be strengthening your neck muscles, reducing any pain you do have and reducing the risk of experiencing the same type of neck discomfort.

As you grow older, you will have to focus more on knowing your body and its triggers for pain. Vigilance when it comes to your daily habits and your exercise regimen can go a long way in managing and preventing neck pain.

If you have questions regarding treatment for neck pain, please contact our offices or request a free MRI review to get answers about your neck pain today.