Self Assisted Neck Stretches

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If you have neck pain, you may benefit from working with a physical therapist to help decrease your pain and improve your neck range of motion. Your physical therapist can show you how to adjust your posture to keep your neck in the optimal position, and gentle stretches may be prescribed to improve mobility and decrease muscle pain.

A sore and stiff neck is often experienced by people first thing in the morning as well as at the end of a long work day.

Gentle stretching exercises can help alleviate the aches associated with tight muscles of neck region. These stretches should be performed upon wakening as well as during breaks at work. The exercises below utilize self assistance to obtain a more efficient stretch. Movement should be stopped when a gentle stretch is felt. If any sensation such as arm tingling, numbness, or pain is experienced, the exercise should be discontinued.

Be sure to check in with your doctor or physical therapist before starting any stretching exercise program for your neck.

Neck Extension

  • Slowly pull your head back and tuck your chin. This places your head directly above your shoulders
  • Slowly tilt your head back looking up at the ceiling
  • Gentle rotate your head back and forth about 3 or 4 times. Your head should only turn about one centimeter. This helps to bring your neck all the way to end range
  • Stop when a stretch is felt in the muscles in the front of your neck
  • Hold for a count of ten
  • Repeat 5 times

Neck Flexion

  • Slowly tuck your chin and look down at your toes
  • Place one hand on the back at your head and gently assist this motion
  • Stop when a stretch is felt in the muscles in the back of your neck
  • Hold for a count of ten
  • Repeat 5 times

Neck Rotation

  • Slowly turn your head and look over your left shoulder
  • Place one hand on your right check and gently assist this motion
  • Stop when a stretch is felt in the muscles on the right side of your neck
  • Hold for a count of ten
  • Repeat the steps above in the opposite direction
  • Repeat 5 times

Side Flexion

  • Slowly tilt your left ear down to your left shoulder
  • Place one hand on your right ear and gently assist in this motion
  • Stop when a stretch is felt in the muscles on the right side of your neck
  • Hold for a count of ten
  • Repeat 5 times
  • Repeat the steps above in the opposite direction

Taking the time each day to stretch your neck can keep your muscles moving freely and may prevent pain or loss of mobility in your neck. Check in with your physical therapist, and learn which exercises are best for your specific condition.

Edited by Brett Sears, PT.

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