5 Best Neck Stretches
Are you dealing with neck pain or looking for ways to prevent it? Neck stretches are a great way to alleviate tightness and soreness and promote better posture.
The neck is a complex structure of bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments that allows us to move our head in all directions. However, the neck can become stiff, which is often uncomfortable and can interfere with everyday activities. There are many reasons why the neck may become stiff, including poor posture, physical activity, and certain medical conditions.
Poor posture is one of the most common reasons for neck stiffness and is a very common presentation to us as physios here at Surrey Physio. Work from home, laptops, increased phone usage and a general lack of neck mobility has resulted in record numbers of patients seeking our help for neck stiffness. Slouching, looking down at our phones or computers, and other activities that involve poor posture can all contribute to neck stiffness and can cause the muscles and ligaments in the neck to become tight and stiff, making it difficult to move the neck. Don’t let neck pain become chronic, seek help from a physio or osteopath as soon as possible.
Certain medical conditions can cause neck stiffness as well. Arthritis and other degenerative diseases can cause inflammation of the joints in the neck, leading to stiffness and pain. "Pinched nerves" (or what we call nerve root impingement) can also cause the neck to become painful and patients often stiffen their neck so not to aggravate the nerve pain.
Stress can lead to neck stiffness. Stress can cause the muscles in the neck to become tense and tight, leading to stiffness and pain. Imagine driving a car and you get really frustrated, you'll feel your shoulders lift and you'll tense your muscles in frustration.
Here are five of the best neck stretches you can do at home:
1. Posterior Scalene Stretch
Place your fingers in the webbing of your neck (just above the collar bone), and rotate your neck to the opposite side, and tuck your chin down. You will feel the stretch under your fingers at the side of the neck. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, and relax.
2. Neck Rotations
Neck rotations are an excellent way to keep your neck muscles loose and flexible. To do this exercise, sit or stand in a comfortable position and slowly turn your head to the right. Hold for a few seconds and then turn your head to the left. Repeat this 10 times in each direction.
3. Neck Side Flexion Overstretch
Ensuring your nose is pointing forwards, bend your neck as if you were taking your left ear towards your left shoulder, using your hand to gently apply overpressure. Hold on to a chair to make the stretch stronger. You should feel the stretch to your neck on the same side you are holding on to the chair. Repeat to the right. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. This exercise will help improve mobility to your neck.
4. Neck Tilts / Side flexion mobilisation
Neck tilts are a great way to stretch out the sides of your neck. To do this exercise, sit or stand in a comfortable position and tilt your head to the right. Hold for a few seconds and then tilt your head to the left. Repeat this 10 times in each direction.
5. Seated Neck Extensions
Seated neck extensions are a great way to stretch out the back of your neck. Sit up straight, and gently tilt your head back, holding for a few seconds and then releasing. Repeat this 10 times.
These five neck stretches are easy to do at home and can help relieve neck pain and tension. Remember to breathe deeply throughout each exercise and to stop if you feel any pain. With regular practice, these stretches can help improve your posture and keep your neck muscles strong and healthy.
(These videos are provided by Rehab My Patient – the best exercise prescription software for therapists to prescribe exercises www.rehabmypatient.com. If you are a patient needing advice, call Surrey Physio to book a telephone/video consultation with one of our expert physios or osteopaths, or book in face-to-face for an appointment. You can call us on 0208 685 6930 or book online by clicking the link at the top of the page).