Neck and shoulder pain can be, well, a pain in the neck.
These simple exercises will help stretch your neck and back to reduce pain and improve mobility, as well as improve your core strength in order to prevent neck pain in the future.
Head tilts are so simple they can be done anywhere, even while waiting for a red light or standing in line at the store.
Sit or stand while looking forward, then tilt head slowly forward until your chin touches your chest. Hold this position for five seconds. Slowly lift your head, then repeat this stretch five times.
Look forward and tilt your head to one side, bringing your ear down toward your shoulder. Tilt only until you start to feel a stretch; do not push until you are uncomfortable. Hold for five seconds then switch to the other side. Repeat five times.
Seated Clasping Neck Stretch
After warming up with head tilts, you’ll be able to get a deeper stretch with this exercise.
Sit straight and clasp your hands together, then place your palms at the back of your head. Gently, push your head forward, chin toward your chest, pulling your head away from your shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds, then slowly lift back up. Repeat three times.
Quadruped T-Spine Rotation
Get down on your hands and knees. Your knees should be hip-width apart, and your hands should be shoulder-width apart with your elbows bent slightly. Put one hand behind your head. Lift your bent elbow and head to the side while slightly looking up. Be sure to move your head and elbow together. Lower your elbow and head together, then repeat this movement at least ten times on each side.
Front Plank on a Table
Strong core muscles can help reduce the strain on your neck and shoulders, preventing neck pain. This exercise helps work your core muscles.
Stand facing a counter or table that is waist-height, with your feet together. Tighten your stomach muscles and lower yourself onto your forearms against the table. Clasp your hands.
Align your shoulders over your elbows. Lift up your heels and hold this position for at least 15 seconds.
Straight Leg Raises
This is another exercise that can help strengthen your core in order to reduce neck strain.
Sit in a chair where you can have both feet flat on the floor and your legs bent at a 90 degree angle. Lift one leg so that it is now out straight, with your knees next to each other. Lift a bit higher, about one to three inches for a few seconds, then bring your leg back down to the starting position. Repeat between 10 to 20 times, then repeat with your other leg.
This exercise can be modified if you are finding it too easy. Instead of lowering your foot back down to the floor after each stretch, leave it raised between each lift.
Practice these exercises often to help reduce neck pain, improve mobility, and prevent neck strain from returning.