7 Best Exercises to Reduce Stress in the Neck
Neck stress and stiffness are among the frequent complaints people have nowadays. Excessive use of smartphones and sitting at a desk all day can provoke the feeling of tension in the area of the neck and shoulders. As a result, a person may constantly suffer from a headache, while the problem roots in neck stress. In some cases, stiff neck muscles cause pain in the upper back and even radiate to the arms. All these symptoms can negatively affect a person’s everyday routine.
What can be done to reduce the pain in the neck and get back to regular activity? If you don’t have any serious injuries, then a series of simple exercises can bring desired results. However, you should consult your doctor before training if you have had any traumas in the past or if the pain is unbearable.
The following seven exercises can be easily done at home and don’t require special physical conditions.
Related: Best Pulled Neck Muscle Treatment
Chin Tuck Stretch
One of the most effective ways to reduce neck stress is chin tuck stretch. Moreover, this exercise is a good remedy against the forward head posture that is so common now. You may be standing upright or sitting on a chair. Look in front of you and slowly press your chin towards your throat. Feel how the muscles of your back stretch. You may also put your hands behind your head and apply additional tension. Hold for a few seconds, then return to the starting position. Repeat several times for a better result.
Lateral Neck Stretch
Another exercise that increases the neck’s range of motion and loosens the tension in the muscles is lateral neck stretch. Like the previous one, it can be performed in a standing or sitting position. Put your right hand on your head and apply a light tension as you pull it towards your right shoulder. Feel how the left side of your neck is stretched. Hold this position for a few moments, then release and repeat on the other side. Be sure not to press your hand too much; you mustn’t have any discomfort during this exercise.
The simple and practical training involves rotating your head to the left and the right. The starting position is looking at the center in front of you. Gently turn your head right and hold for 5-10 seconds. Return to the center. Repeat on the left side. Do up to 5 moves on each side. Try to maintain the same amplitude in both directions. You should feel a moderate stretch in the side muscles of your neck. Avoid making any rapid movements and breathe normally.
Thread the Needle
This dynamic stretch relieves tension and stiffness in the neck, shoulders, and upper back. It may be a good option after sitting in front of the computer for a long time. Start from the tabletop position with your wrists under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Slightly lift your right hand and thread it under your chest, palm up, till your right shoulder touches the floor. You can bend your left elbow a little. Turn your head left and hold this position for 5-10 seconds. Return to the starting position and repeat on the left hand. Don’t hold your breath during this exercise. Try to avoid moving your hips from one side to another; keep them static.
Also known as neck circles, this exercise benefits the cervical spine and neck muscles. It reduces tension and fatigue in the neck and prevents headaches. It can be performed standing or sitting on a chair. Start by looking in front of you, then slowly drop your head, tucking your chin towards your chest. Hold for a few seconds. From this position, roll your head to the right shoulder; you should feel the stretch in the left side of the neck. Stay in this position for a few moments, then return to the center and switch to the left. Repeat several times.
Doing the cat-cow pose regularly is an excellent way to alleviate neck stiffness and improve your posture. Start from a tabletop position, hands shoulder-length, knees under your hips, and spine in a neutral position. Take a deep breath and start moving into the Cow pose. Allow your belly to stretch towards the floor, lift your head and relax your shoulders. Remain in this position for a few seconds, then switch to the Cat pose. Arch your spine upwards, drop your head down but don’t tuck your chin to your chest. Feel the light stretching in the back of your neck. Match your breathing with your moves and repeat changing poses 5-10 times. Once finished, return to the tabletop position.
One of the most popular yoga poses has a positive effect on the whole body in general and on the neck in particular. It loosens muscle tension, reduces neck stress, and prevents neck injuries. Begin with a quadruped position, sit back with your knees separated, and extend your arms in front of you. Lean your forehead on the mat. Another variant is to put your arms along your hips with your palms facing upward. Choose the one that is more comfortable for you. Remain in this position for at least 30 seconds, breathe normally, and try to relax all your muscles. Slowly return to the starting position.
A sedentary lifestyle and the constant use of smartphones have increased the number of people with neck problems. It also led to a forward head and rounded shoulders posture. Doing some neck exercises regularly is one of the ways to get rid of the feeling of stiffness and discomfort, improve your posture, and be more active. However, it is essential to remember that practicing should not increase pain. Even if you don’t have any neck injuries, you should consult your doctor or physical specialist for qualified advice.