In my office I show patients these simple, effective stretches all the time. They will help stretch your neck muscles keeping your neck loose and mobile. This will relieve your neck pain and muscle tension.
Every segment of your spine has motion but when things get stiff and immobile inflammation builds up putting more pressure on the nerves. Strained or irritated muscles can also pull the neck spine out of its normal alignment putting unwanted pressure on nerves. This, of course causes neck pain and other unwanted problems like headaches and tingling into the arms and hands.
- Stretch #1 – Lateral Head Tilts. Start by sitting up straight or standing. Slowly tilt one ear toward that same shoulder. Tilt head until you feel a good stretch. Next, hold the stretch for 15 seconds. Then slowly bring head back to straight. Repeat one more times and then do the same to the opposite side.
- Stretch #2 – Head Half Circles. Half circles with your neck and head with your head tilted forward and then with your head tilted back. Similar to if you do full head circles rolling your head around to each side, the half circles are much easier to do and are safer. Start by bending your chin down slightly and roll your chin to one shoulder and then the other. Do 5-10 rolls to each side. Next, extend your head back slightly and roll one ear to that shoulder and then roll head toward other shoulder. Again, do 5-10 rolls to each side.
- Stretch #3 – Modified Head Tilt. This is a more advanced version of stretch number one. When performing the lateral head tilt neck stretch, reach up with the arm on the side you are tilting towards and apply mild pressure to the head pulling it or stretching it slightly further. For example, if you are tilting your neck and head to the right, use your right hand to pull your head laterally toward your right shoulder.
With all of these stretches you can easily do them whenever you have a free moment, when you feel your neck stiffening up, or when you first awake in the morning. You can really do these stretches as many times as you like. For more stretching information and pictures of the stretches visit Arc4life’s neck exercises and stretches page.
When doing any stretch if you experience more pain, or irritation, simply stop that stretch. With the neck roll stretch, you can do full neck rolls as well. The reason I like half rolls better is because it is slightly easier on the neck.
Of course, if pain or the problems seem to persist or do not improve see your primary doctor or chiropractor.
Some things to avoid that prevent stiff neck are: sleeping on your stomach, and prolonged strenuous positions, such as working on the computer with poor posture for long periods.
Some additional things to do along with a stretching regimen are: see a chiropractor for neck adjustments or manipulations, try neck traction, and use a good neck pillow while sleeping.
Dr Matt Bellinger is a Chiropractor in Connecticut. He has written many articles on how to easily and naturally relieve pain, and has helped hundreds of patients in his clinic end their neck pain and back pain. He recommends specific pain relief and posture improving products at Arc4life.com
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