Neck pain is a common problem that many people experience at one point in their lives. You can get a stiff neck if you slept in a bad position or maintained a slouched posture while typing on a smartphone or PC for extended periods. In some cases, neck pain may develop from a past injury.

Regardless of the cause, acute neck pain and stress is easy to relieve through simple stretching exercises. Neck exercises for relieving aches are easy to do and require little time. To help you get started, here are 5 stretches to relieve neck pain.

1. Side Neck Stretch

You can do this stretching exercise from a standing or seated position. As the name implies, this stretch targets the sides of your neck. This neck stretch will loosen your neck and shoulder muscles, and if you can do this with your eyes closed, it will help them relax even more.

  • Begin the exercise with your shoulders relaxed. Gently tilt your head toward the right shoulder.
  • Assist the stretch by placing your right hand on top of the head and pull it gently.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds then slowly align the neck with your spine and repeat the stretch on the other side.

And here’s a short video that demonstrates proper form for a neck side stretch. This move stretches the muscles on the side of the neck, including the Upper Trapezius, Scalenes and Erector Spinae.

2. Hands Behind the Back Neck Stretch

For a deeper stretch in the sides of your neck, attempt this exercise. It is similar to the side neck stretch only that this time your hands will be behind the back.

  • While standing upright with feet slightly spread, place both hands behind your back just below the tailbone. You can hold the left wrist with your right hand.
  • Lower your right ear towards the shoulder. To increase intensity of the stretch, pull your wrist with the right arm to straighten the left arm gently.
  • Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds then switch sides.

3. Seated Clasping Neck Stretch

If the back of your neck and upper back are stiff, then this stretching exercise is for you.

  • Sit down on a chair or cross-legged on the floor. Keep the spine tall and straight then press your hips firmly into the seat or ground.
  • Bring both hands at the back of your head and interlace the fingers.
  • Gently press the head down by tucking in your chin into the chest.
  • Hold this stretch for about 30 seconds before releasing your hands.

Here’s a video demonstrating an alternative upper back, neck and shoulder stretch. This neck stretching exercise works on shoulders and upper back mobility to relieve tension off your neck, shoulders, and upper back.

4. Grounded Tipover Tuck

When experiencing a stiff neck and sore shoulders, the grounded tipover tuck can provide fast relief. This stretching exercise can also be helpful at relieving headaches and drowsiness.

  • Kneel down with thighs perpendicular to the floor and hands placed at your sides.
  • Bend forward to touch the floor with the top of your head while keeping thighs raised and perpendicular to the floor.
  • Stretch the arms behind your back and claps the fingers together.
  • Hold this stretch for about 10-20 seconds and then get back into the kneeling position. Rest briefly and repeat the stretch 5 or more times.

5. Upper Back Stretch

When the upper back is strained, the neck muscles bear the brunt of supporting the weight of your head. By releasing tension in the upper back, this will ease stiffness in the neck. You can accomplish this with an upper-back stretch performed from a seated position.

  • Once you are comfortably seated on a chair with feet firmly planted on the ground, stretch out your arms at shoulder height in front of you and put your palms together.
  • Bend the upper back as though you were about to dive into a pool. Ensure also to flex your head by tucking in the chin to your chest.
  • Stay in this position for about 30 seconds then finish with gentle neck rotations.

Here’s a video from Sarah Beth Yoga, where she demonstrates a yoga stretching routine to relax neck and shoulder tension.

A stiff neck can cause other problems such as headaches and upper back pain. To relieve tense neck muscles, make use of the stretching exercises described above. For faster relief, ensure to massage any sore muscles in your neck and shoulders as well.

Warning:

Individuals who experience chronic neck pain should seek medical advice before attempting any stretching exercise in order to determine the root cause of the problem and best remedies for their condition. This is because you could have a herniated disk without knowing it, and without an adapted and specific stretching routine you could increase the injury instead of relieving the discomfort. So, always consult with your physician or medical caretaker first before attempting any stretching or exercise routine.

Why everyone should stretch regularlyIf you want more information about the importance of stretching, we published an ebook “Stretching For Everyone” that you might want to download. In this ebook you will find information on how to help prevent injuries, and it’s FREE to download.

For more information on the content of the eBook, you can click the book cover, or go read what is covered in the book in the article here:

Why Everyone Should Stretch Regularly