skip to main content skip to footer

Excercises To Reduce Neck Pain

female getting a massage

The neck is the most flexible part of your spine and just like any other area of the body, movement exercises and good posture are important to maintain its health. Neck pain can be brought on or aggravated by how you treat this vital structure. We often neglect our neck when it comes to exercises, focusing instead on our legs, arms or heart. So try these five helpful hints and incorporate them into your daily routine.

Moving your neck slowly through all its ranges of motion is a critical to maintaining its proper motion and function throughout life. It is important to do pure movements rather than combinations; rolling the neck around like a ball and socket joint (such as the hip or shoulder) should be avoided and may cause injury. Instead, flex the neck forward until your chin touches the top of your chest. Then, slowly bend your neck backwards, chin to the sky. These movements should not cause pain if they are done slowly and you have no pre-existing injury. Gently try to increase your range of motion in each direction.

The next movement is side bending and is accomplished by trying to bend either ear towards the shoulder. Do this in front of a mirror so that you keep your head straight, looking forward. Note whether you can bend equally to each side. If not try to gently stretch more into the rigid direction.  Normal range of motion when bending your neck to the side is about 45 degrees if you are less than 50 years old and closer to35-40 degrees if you are 50 or older.  If side bending is restricted or continues to be stiffer to one side (which is common as we get older), a trip to your chiropractor is a good idea.

The last movement is rotation. Simply rotate your chin slowly so that you are looking over one shoulder and then rotate to the other side. Again, your range of motion from side to side should be similar and near 80 degrees if you are under 50 and 70 degrees for those 50 and older. None of these movements should cause pain or make you dizzy. If they do, then it's a sign you have a neck injury or problem.  If they are painful you can try to gently work through them.  If you get dizzy stop and consult your doctor. 

Another important aspect of neck function is how the shoulder girdle influences neck posture and motion. If your shoulder girdle and upper back are rigid and restricted if will negatively affect your neck. Try rolling your shoulders forwards and backwards, stretching slowly, to help ease tension at the neck.  Perform some overhead presses either with just the weight of your arms or add light weights.  If you try using heavier weights please perform this exercise seated and conract your abdominal muscles to protect your back. 

General exercises such as fast paced walking or hiking are also important as your spine is the core of your body. Walking is one of the least "injury-producing" exercises and one you can do well into your later years.  Try gradually walking faster to enhance your cardiovascular function.

Last, but certainly not least, make sure to maintain good posture.  Stand up tall with your head held high.  Hold your head upright while talking on the phone, driving, reading, performing other tasks, or sleeping.

If you're a side sleeper use a pillow that holds your head in line with the rest of your spine (have your mate check your alignment).  If you are a back sleeper a thin pillow is usually best.

**To view a  neck exercise which works great click on: Best Neck Exercise**

For a great "Core Exercise" routine which includes your neck click here.

To watch a good Neck Stretch video click here.

To Your Excellent Health: Dr Neil Levin
10 Hewitt Sq, E. Northport, NY 11731 Ph: (631) 651-2929