4 Simple Stretches to Relieve a Sore Neck
Neck pain is an extremely common ailment that affects the general population. In fact, about two thirds of the population report to have it at some point in their lives. Individuals who perform a significant amount of desk or computer work, those who frequently drive between job sites and even motor vehicle accident victims are among those who are affected by neck pain. Neck pain can often be debilitating, leaving individuals unable to work or perform their usual recreational activities. However, neck pain does not necessarily have to keep you down. Here are four easy exercises that can help relieve neck pain.
Upper Trapezius Stretch
The trapezius is a muscle that extends from the base of the neck, all the way down the shoulder. Tightness in this muscle is one of the most common culprits of neck pain. Begin by tilting the chin back slightly and laterally flexing the ear towards the shoulder. Take care to not compensate by shrugging the shoulder up to meet the ear. To enhance the stretch you can place your hand on the side of your head and gently pull down towards your shoulder. Hold this stretch for 10-15 seconds and repeat 3-5 times on each side.
Tightness of the chest muscles can contribute to poor posture and rounded shoulders which may be a factor in neck pain. People who work in desk jobs or on the computer often sit with rounded shoulders (slightly hunched forward) and the chest muscles in a shortened position. Stretching out the pectoral muscles in the chest helps improve your posture which may reduce your neck pain. To stretch these muscles, stand in a corner with forearms against the wall forming a 90 degree angle at the elbow. Lean forward until a stretch is felt through the chest. Hold this position for 10-15 seconds and repeat 3-5 times. *This can also be done one arm at a time on the edge of a wall or doorway.
The levator scapula is another muscle in the neck that can contribute to neck pain. The action of the levator in the cervical spine is to flex the neck laterally. To stretch the levator, turn head towards the shoulder and drop the chin. You can place your hand on the back of your head and gently pull down towards your shoulder to elongate the stretch (use the hand on the same side that your head is turned to). Hold this stretch for approximately 10-15 seconds and repeat 3-5 times to each side.
Another result of poor posture is the weakening of deep neck muscles, which can also contributor to neck pain. When the head is consistently resting in a forward position, the muscles that hold the head up can become lengthened and weak. Chin tucks are an excellent, easy exercise to improve the strength of neck muscles and decrease neck pain. Begin by sitting up straight with your shoulders back and head up, facing forward. Place your finger on your chin and pull your head straight back as if you are trying to push your chin into your neck / to the back of your head. Repeat this motion ten times and perform three sets.
Neck pain continues to be an ailment that impacts a large percentage of people. Some (more mild) forms of neck pain can be improved through easy exercises and stretching. If you suffer from more significant neck pain, alternative treatment options may be needed. In which case, you should consult your physician for the best options based on your specific condition.