Ah the neck; a complex collection of muscles, bones and joints.
Most of us take our neck for granted until we get a cracking bit of neck pain. Whether you’ve slept wrong, tried to turn a little too far, injured it playing sport, or simply spent a little too much time texting, neck pain really is ‘a pain in the neck!’. Never fear though. This guide below from your local Bedford Physiotherapists at Morley Physiotherapy Centre will show you how to safely stretch your neck for some much-needed pain relief.
If you’re suffering from neck pain, practising some simple neck stretches can help ease pain and stiffness and can generally be started straight away.
However, if you have severe neck pain, notice weakness or altered sensation in your hands or arms, or you get neck pain while exercising, stop right away and call your physio. You’re probably dealing with something a little more severe.
Which Exercises Should You Do?
The following stretches when performed slowly in a gentle manner can help ease mild neck pain within 2 weeks, with full recovery taking about 4-6 weeks. It’s best to keep doing the stretches for 6-8 weeks, even if the pain stops, as this will help prevent the neck pain from coming back.
Forward and back neck tilt
The first exercise is a simple neck tilt, which is best performed from a sitting position.
- Simply tilt your head down so your chin touches your chest.
- Hold this position for 5 seconds and return to the starting position.
- Repeat five times.
Side neck tilt
You can try this next exercise from the same sitting position.
- Gently tilt your head toward your left shoulder and try to touch it with your ear. Don’t push yourself too far. Simply stop when you feel a stretch.
- Hold this for 5 seconds.
- Then, return to start position and repeat on the right side.
- Do this five times each side.
For this final exercise, you can be seated or standing – it’s up to you.
- Look straight ahead, then slowly turn your head to one side, keeping your chin at the same level.
- Hold the stretch for 5 seconds.
- Slowly turn your head back to the front and repeat on the other side.
- Do this 5 times each side.
- Starting in sitting with the neck and shoulders naturally aligned pull (tuck) your chin backwards( “make a double chin”).
- Hold for 5 seconds and return to starting position again.
- Repeat the stretch five times.
Neck Stretching Tips
When practised correctly, neck stretches can be a really helpful form of pain relief. Just remember not to overdo it and make sure you are always stretching gently and slowly.
Stretching should make your neck feel better, not worse. So, if you start feeling worse or experience pain while stretching, stop and go see a physio or medical professional.
How Do You Keep the Pain Away?
If you want to prevent the injury from happening again you can also do exercises to improve your neck strength and range of motion. With these exercises, start off with five reps of each and build up to ten.
- Shoulder Circles: From a standing position, raise your shoulders up towards your ears and move them in a circle backwards. Lower and repeat.
- Resistance Exercises(Isometrics): From a standing or seated position, put your left hand on your head above your left ear. Apply resistance by gently press your head against your hand while holding your head straight. Do the same on the other side. Hold each press for 5 seconds
- Head Lifts: Lying on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor( head rests without a pillow), lift your head off the bed without raising your shoulders holding for 5 seconds then lower. Find Out More
Want to know what might be causing your neck pain and how else is it can be treated? Find out more about neck pain here.
Before you give these neck exercises a go though, it’s important to consult a medical professional and get the ‘all clear’.
At Morley Physiotherapy Centre, we can provide you with the professional advice and treatment you need to be able to lead an active and pain-free life.
Contact us to book an appointment today.