Neck Pain: Exercises for Relief
Neck pain can hinder your daily routine. It may be brought on by stress, poor posture, abnormal sleeping positions, or accidents resulting in trauma. While some neck pain might require medical attention, some can be relieved by doing a few simple movements to strengthen, stretch, and relax the neck muscles. Here are some exercises to help provide relief for neck pain.
All at the Top
For tightness or stiffness in the neck, a few neck rolls can do wonders. Sit straight in your chair with your shoulders rolled back to bring your chest out—remember that poor posture can cause more pain. Relax your arms, rest your hands on your knees, and keep your elbows near your hips. Then, looking straight ahead, drop your left ear as close to your left shoulder as you can. The right side of your neck will feel the stretch—but you should not push your ear so far down that it causes pain. Counting to ten, slowly roll your neck around so that your face is towards the floor, and your right ear is leaning toward your right shoulder. Think left ear down on 1, face down on 5, and right ear down on 10. Return to your beginning position, and reverse directions. Right ear down on 1, face down on 5, left ear down on 10.
Similarly, rather than rolling your neck from ear to ear, you can hold in each position for a count of five. From your beginning position, reach your left ear to your left shoulder, and count to five before your returning to your original position. Drop your chin to your chest, face to the floor for another count of five, and return; then right ear to right shoulder for another count of five. Avoid bobbing your head in the direction you’re leaning, as this can cause stress on the neck muscles.
All the Way Down
Often neck pain isn’t limited to the neck. Even if the root cause is in the neck, you may feel tightness and pain all the way down your back, shoulders, and arms. The skeletomuscular system is all connected; which means that when a muscle in your neck is pulled out of balance, the rest of the muscles down the spinal cord are working to make up for it by pulling your spine back and forth to keep your body straight.
An easy exercise to help your body realign itself is to simply lay down on the floor. Laying with your back on the ground, prop your legs up on a stool or the seat of a chair that reaches to the back of your knees. With your palms up, simply stretch your arms straight out or at a 45 degree angle between your shoulders and hips. Relax in this position for 5 - 10 minutes while your body straightens out!