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Wrist pain, eye strain, back pain, and neck pain — these have all probably become routine if you’ve been stuck at home like the rest of us. After hours and endless seconds of being hunched over a screen, we tend to forget our health and everything that comes with it. That is, until a tiny little thing such as a neck pain becomes too much to be ignored.
Not to worry, because you’ve come to the right place. Here’s a stretching exercise for neck pain! Get ready to move your shoulders, chest, hands, and other parts of your body. For more serious cases, medical advice from a professional would be more appropriate.
Addressing the whole system that supports your neck is important. That includes your cervical spine and thoracic spine. Tracing where the pain is coming from can help you understand what causes the usual discomfort — and help you address easier ways to relieve it.
Does Stretching Help Neck Pain?
Easy stretching exercises may be all you need to relieve or prevent neck pain. Simple neck stretches can help decrease areas of tension that cause the headaches and stiffness in the joints. Neck exercises and stretches can make the muscles in your neck stronger and more limber. Stretching your neck can help loosen tense joints, banish pain, and gain flexibility. Bonus: A strong neck can help prevent problems with your shoulders, upper back, and arms, too.
Here are a few neck stretches you can do at home.
Forward and Backward Tilt
This neck exercise can be done while sitting. Make sure to keep your moves smooth and gentle.
- Start with your back straight and head squarely over your shoulders.
- Lower your chin toward your chest and hold for 15-30 seconds. Relax, and slowly lift your head back up.
- Tilt your head up toward the ceiling and bring the base of your skull toward your back. Hold for 10 seconds, then return to starting position.
- Repeat this neck exercise several times.
This is one of the neck stretches that can be done while standing up, with your feet apart and arms down your sides.
Start with a slow tilt of your head toward your right shoulder, attempting to touch it with your ear. Stop when you feel a stretch in your neck. Make sure not to raise your shoulder. Hold the stretch for 5-10 seconds, then return to starting position. Repeat this exercise on your left side. Do this 10 times.
You can do this while seated or standing. Start by keeping your head squarely over your shoulders and your back straight. Gently turn your head to the right until you feel the stretch in the side of your shoulder and neck. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds, and slowly turn your head forward again. Return to starting position. Repeat the exercise on your left side. You can do this 10 times.
This is one of the neck stretches best done standing up. Start by raising your shoulders and move them in a circle moving forward. Feel the stretch in your neck. Repeat 3 times. Return to the starting position of the exercise, repeat 3 times, this time going backward.
It’s important to perform neck stretches gently and slowly, especially when moving your head side to side. Sudden neck movements can cause inflammation, pain, and a more serious neck injury. Apply a heating pad or take a warm shower before stretching your neck.
What is the Fastest Way to Relieve Neck Pain?
- Apply heat or ice to the painful area of the neck.
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen.
- Keep moving around gently; avoid jerking and other sudden movements.
- Do slow head and neck exercises: up and down, side to side, and from ear to ear.
When to See a Physical Therapist
If your neck pain interferes with your regular daily activities, it’s time to seek medical advice and professional treatment. Other reasons you should seek medical care for neck pain include:
- Weakness in your arms, hands, or lower part of the body
- Head ache felt alongside neck strain
- Pain felt after an injury or car collision
- Pain that spreads further down your arms or legs
These additional symptoms could be a sign of a more serious injury to your neck, like a herniated disk, pinched nerve, bulging disk, or arthritis. It is best to see a local physical therapist or a doctor for immediate medical treatment.
Most of the time, a stiff neck with minor pain can be treated at home with ice, heat, mild exercise, and the right type of stretching. If your neck pain does not subside after a few days or you have additional symptoms, you should see a doctor.