Is Your Neck Pain a PAIN In the Neck? Try These 3 Daily Exercises to Reduce Pain and Stiffness

Samantha-Jane Gray
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Our sedentary lifestyle leads to neck pain, strain and stiffness – plain and simple. Every day, our phones and computers, cars and desks require our heads to spend way too much time in the forward position. The result is what we commonly refer to as “tech neck.”

In addition to this, we find ourselves in a busy mental state that generally lacks body awareness, which is why most people suffer from tight neck and shoulders.
 

Chiropractors say that for every inch your neck juts forward past your shoulder, it adds an additional ten pounds of strain to your neck.

 
The tension is caused by the weight of the head pulling forward and down, straining the scalene and trapezius muscles that support our head. Chiropractors say that for every inch your neck juts forward past your shoulder, it adds an additional ten pounds of strain to your neck.

Ouch!

The good news is we can improve our alignment of our heads to reduce tension and pain in the neck muscles. How? Read on!
 
 

Reduce Neck Pain By Adjusting Your Alignment – Here’s How:

Start in a comfortable seated position and sit up tall. Shift your head back in space and lengthen the back of the neck by subtly drawing your chin back and in towards the chest (this may feel like you’re giving yourself a double chin).

Once you feel the back of your neck stretch, find a balanced placement of your chin that feels more natural for you to maintain. The key is not to force or hold any alignment but allow for ease and minor adjustments.

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When the weight of the head is stacked over your shoulders, you will feel your neck muscles relax. This is your ideal placement of the head over the shoulders. Think ears in line with the top of your shoulders, or ears over collarbones.
 

 
 
Move gently and slowly. Doing this small adjustment as many times as you can remember throughout the day can be extremely helpful in correcting the placement of your head.

In addition to doing this self-adjustment, you can practice daily exercises to reduce neck pain and stiffness. Read on to learn more!
 
 

Here Are 3 Neck Pain Exercises You Can Do Daily:

To mobilize and strengthen the neck muscles, try these 3 exercises to reduce neck pain and stiffness and increase mobility.
 

1. Head Traction

This movement is tractioning your head away from your spine and can assist in easing any compression in the cervical spine (or neck).

HEAD TRACTION 2

Let’s try it:

  • Start seated, standing or lying down on your back
  • Interlace your fingers so that the base of the fingers touch
  • Place the outside edges of your pinky fingers at the base of the skull
  • Place the thumbs down the side of your neck, pointing down the length of neck to create somewhat of a neck brace
  • With a firm grip on the skull bone, squeeze the fingers and pull your head up, out and away from your spine

 
Hold this position for 10 seconds, then repeat 3 times.
 

2. Lengthen and Strengthen

LENGHTEN AND STRENGTHEN

Let’s try it:

  • Start seated or standing
  • Place one of your palms on the center of the back of your head
  • Gently push your head into the palm of your hand, guiding the head both back and up
  • Resist the pressure of your head with your hand

 
Do this exercise for 45 seconds, then repeat 3 times.
 

 
 

3. Head Circles and Shoulder Rolls

This neck pain exercise has three parts: half and full head circles, and shoulder rolls. Start with the half circles, the move into the full head circles and end with the shoulder rolls.

Take your time and move slowly and mindfully!

Half Head Circles
Let’s try it:

  • Draw the chin to your chest
  • Trace the collarbone from the center to the right, eyes gazing beyond your right shoulder
  • Return to the center
  • Repeat on the left

 
Repeat this movement 3 times on each side.

Full Head Circles
Let’s try it:

  • Draw the chin to your chest
  • Trace the collarbone from the center to the left
  • Gently, trace a circle in the air with your chin from the left shoulder to the right shoulder – your eyes will trace a rainbow shape across the horizon, until finishing gazing down passed your right shoulder
  • Complete the circle, tracing the collarbone from right to left, eyes gazing downward

 
Repeat 2 or 3 times and then reverse the circle in the opposite direction. Notice any uneasy spots in the circle, and breathe into this shape to soften the neck muscles.

Shoulder Rolls
Let’s try it:

  • Shrug your shoulders up, back and down in a circular motion
  • Repeat this motion 6 times through

 
Repeat in the opposite direction.
 
 

Reduce Neck Pain and Stiffness With These Neck Pain Exercises

Release any judgement when you catch yourself out of alignment. Simply correct your posture and float your head back and up over the shoulders once again.

The more we can gently remind ourselves, the more the body is able to integrate this new sensation into its autonomous patterns. Soon, proper alignment will become a habit and your neck pain will diminish significantly.

Quick Tip 1: If you are at a desk for a long period of time: Perform these exercises on the hour, every hour. This can alleviate tension and provide a useful mental reset. Set a timer and stay committed!

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Quick Tip 2: Try these exercises at the beginning and end of each flight (or when you’re the passenger in a vehicle) and notice the improvement of your range of motion over time.

Quick Tip 3: Test the placement of your head while you’re in the car, and consider making some adjustments to your seat that support more length in the back of the neck.

Move slowly, with ease and listen to your body.

There are many more nourishing movements to explore but you may prefer starting with a small routine that is accessible and easy to integrate into your day.

Any gentle mobilizations in the neck and shoulders will be beneficial in keeping the muscle and connective tissues healthy. So keep exploring new movements, wherever you are, and however long you have time for. Every little bit helps!

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Samantha-Jane Gray

Samantha-Jane Gray is a certified pilates, yoga and GYROTONICⓇ instructor, based in Los Angeles. She has a lifetime of movement experience as a professional ballerina and has worked exclusively with private clientele for over 15 years. Her passion for movement and delving deep into the details is shared at large with her company Creating Body.

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