Stretches for neck pain

Neck pain stretches are great for relaxing muscles, reducing tension and, consequently, pain, which can also affect the shoulders, causing headache and discomfort in the spine and shoulders. To enhance this home treatment, you can take a hot bath or put a warm compress on the neck before performing the stretches, as the heat increases the local blood circulation, favors flexibility and promotes muscle relaxation, facilitating muscle stretching.

4 stretching exercises for neck pain 

Some examples of stretches for neck pain are:

1. Keep your back straight

  • Must maintain correct posture, and look forward
  • Imagine that you have a helium balloon attached to your neck, as if it were pulling your neck up
  • Lower your shoulders and imagine a shoulder to shoulder smile
  • Keeping the shoulders away from the ears

2. Look down 

  • Tilt your head as far to the left
  • Keep stretching for 20 seconds, then do the same for the opposite side, repeating 3 times for each side
  • Always remember to keep your face facing forward, not turning your head
  • You should feel the lateral neck muscles stretching

3. Look at the sky 

  • Tilt your head down, trying to bring your chin closer to your chest
  • Keep this stretch for 1 minute and close your eyes or keep your eyes fixed on the same point
  • You should feel the muscles in the back of your neck stretching

4. Tilt your neck sideways 

  • Take a deep breath and take your head back as long as you can
  • Stay in this position for 1 minute
  • Do not tilt your head sideways
  • You should feel the muscles in the front of your neck stretching

Each stretch should not cause pain, just the feeling of stretching the muscle. When you finish these stretches, try a neck massage to help you relax and feel better. 

Attention: If you feel pain, burning sensation, have ‘sand in your spine’ or feel tingling, do not do these stretching exercises and make an appointment with an orthopedist or physiotherapist so that they can carry out an evaluation and request exams, if necessary , to identify the cause of neck pain and indicate the most appropriate treatment, which can be done with physiotherapy sessions, ergonomic measures and home exercises, for example. 

Other forms of neck pain relief 

In addition to performing stretching exercises, it is possible to relieve this discomfort with other strategies such as: 

  • Muscle strengthening exercises , such as ‘bicycle for arms’, for 2 minutes, alternating with 3 minutes of exercises for the shoulders with elastic 3 times a week; weight exercises: shoulders with 1-4 kg dumbbells;
  • Global postural reeducation (RPG), consist of isometric exercises that are great for realigning the whole body, eliminating painful points, correcting all posture; 
  • Massage the neck muscles , followed by pressing tender points for 90 seconds. See how to have a neck massage at: Relaxing self- massage .
  • Classical acupuncture or electroacupuncture and auriculotherapy can decrease pain, being recommended for a period of 1-3 months
  • Improved posture in carrying out daily tasks and work. If you work seated, see the correct position you should be in . 
  • Take muscle relaxant remedies , such as cyclobenzaprine, under medical advice. 

Treatment with osteopathy and manipulative therapies is also a great complement to combat neck pain, and so a consultation with a specialist (osteopath) may be recommended to perform spine and neck manipulation safely and effectively, because the risks of this technique.  

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