Stiff Neck Exercises for Pain Management

Stiff neck exerciseStiff neck exercises commonly appear in neck pain treatment program content. These programs consist of strengthening exercises and stretches, trigger point exercises and aerobic conditioning. Medical problems like recurrent or chronic neck pain and stiffness can be debilitating and often accompanied by painful headaches or shoulder and back pain. Pain, stiff joints, and tight neck muscles make even simple activities painful.

The Importance of Stretching the Neck Muscles

Stretch and flexibility exercises work to preserve or expand the elasticity and range of motion in the affected neck joints, which in turn relieves any neck stiffness that can cause pain. For most people suffering from neck pain, these stretches should be done many times a day.

Importance of Posture

Strengthening workouts can work to improve posture, which helps to eliminate or lessen recurrent flare-ups and improve overall health. You can also try bodyweight back exercises in order to best strengthen the back and reduce tension in the neck and head.

Aerobics for Neck Pain

Aerobic movements can increase circulation to the soft tissues and muscles in the upper back and neck. This can help to increase the range of motion and loosen muscles in the neck. Additionally, the body will also produce endorphins after thirty minutes. Endorphins work as a natural painkiller to minimize pain and make you feel content. Aerobic exercises can be performed daily such as stationary bike training, treadmill workouts, and the elliptical machine.

Gradual Stretches & Working Out

For many people, before beginning a workout program, it’s necessary to get neck pain or a stiff neck under control first. Gradual stretches and joint motion to increase the neck’s range of motion over time may help to minimize the amount of strain experienced during normal activities and make them feel content. Here is some information and fitness content you can use to try and get the tension out.

Tackling Neck Pain before Starting a Stretching Program

There are plenty of options to choose from that can help you to manage chronic neck pain, including:

  • Use a heating pad before you start in order to warm up stiff joints and muscles, making it easier to stretch.
  • After a stretch, apply an ice pack to help reduce inflammation in the muscles and joints.
  • Use a medical over-the-counter anti-inflammatory, which may also help to reduce inflammation.

Two Stretches for Neck Stiffness

Knowing the source of stiffness and pain is important, and understanding how to properly treat it if you plan to do so. If a physical therapist recommends stretches and workouts to relieve chronic pain, then taking this medical advice can lead to recovery. However, chronic pain may be the result of hidden injury that could be worsened by physical strain.

Avoid working your back, neck, or shoulders too hard if you do not know the source of chronic neck pain and stiffness. Before you begin any kind of neck workout or neck stretches you should consult your physician or meet with a trained physical therapist.

Corner Stretch

The corner stretch is a basic exercise that’s also important to stretch the shoulder and chest muscles. This type of stretch is done in the corner of a room or in a corner on the side of a piece of furniture.

Motion and Form

You must stand about two feet back from a corner, facing into the corner. The feet should be placed together, with the forearms resting on each wall and the elbows kept slightly below shoulder height.  You’ll need to lean in as far as possible without causing additional pain. You will feel the stretch in the chest, neck, and front of the right and left shoulders. You should try to hold this stretch for sixty seconds.

Recommended Frequency

You can perform this stretch up to five times a day and before doing any neck strengthening workout. Be careful not to over-exert yourself beyond what is recommended or feel comfortable if you repeat the stretch too frequently or for too many seconds.

Levator Scapula

The levator scapula is a type of stretch that’s also helpful for reducing neck pain. The levator scapula is a muscle that attaches to the shoulder blade and often becomes very tender and tight. This stretch can be done while standing or sitting.

Starting Position

Raise your right elbow above the shoulder in order to lengthen the muscle. Rest your right elbow against a door jam. This works to rotate the outside of the shoulder, which in turn lengthens the levator scapula.

Motion and Form

Turn your head slowly to the left side, bringing the chin down to stretch the back of your neck. Place the fingers of your left hand on the top of your head, gently pulling your head forward in order to slightly increase the stretch. Hold the position on the right side for sixty seconds before switching arms to stretch the left side and repeat a few times per side.

Some studies have determined that it’s important to stretch any tight muscle before strengthening exercises. It’s believed that a stretch can relax a tightened muscle and make strengthening exercises much more effective.

Two Exercises to Strengthen the Neck Muscles

workout for stiff neckThe suboccipital and the scalene muscles can be effectively stretched by strengthening the weakened postural muscles including the deep cervical flexors and the upper thoracic extensors. The following neck exercises can work to minimize neck pain in addition to neck stiffness:

Chin Tuck

The chin tuck is one of the most effective postural exercises that can reduce neck pain.  This exercise stretches the suboccipital muscles and helps to strengthen the muscles that pull the head out of poor posture (leaning too far forward, or to the left or right side) and into proper alignment.

Recommended Frequency

You may repeat this move several times during the day while sitting at your desk at work or in your car. Repeating this move frequently can develop better postural habits. Remember to perform the movement when the shoulders and neck first begin to hurt.

Motion and Form

Stand with your spine placed against a door jamb, placing your feet about four inches from the door jamb’s bottom. Keep your spine against the jamb while pulling the upper back and head back until your head touches the jamb. Make sure your chin remains down, allowing the head to remain straight back. Hold this position for ten seconds, repeating it ten times.

Prone Cobra

The prone cobra is a more advanced exercise that can strengthen the muscles of the upper area of the back, neck, and shoulder girdle. This move is done lying face down on the floor. This position uses gravity as a resistance in the muscle strengthening process.

Starting Position

Start by lying face down, placing your forehead on a firm pillow or rolled-up towel looking at the ground. Hold your arms at each side with your palms facing down. Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth, this will work to stabilize the muscles located in the front of the neck. You will pinch your shoulder blades together and your hands should lift off the floor as you stretch your neck.

Motion and Form

Roll your elbows in slowly, keeping the palms out. Lift your forehead about two inches off the pillow or towel and keep your eyes looking forward at the floor. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and perform ten reps.

Now that you know how you do exercises for neck stiffness, you may with the guidance of a health professional, take this information and build your own routines for best-easing stress and tension in your neck and body.

Saying Goodbye to Neck Pain and Stiffness

Chronic pain in the neck or shoulders is a symptom that many experiences and oftentimes aren’t sure how to relieve or avoid. Being in an uncomfortable position for long periods of time can cause people to hunch the body in to try and find a less painful posture. This stress can cause further health problems and can perpetuate the symptoms of pain in the neck and shoulders.

If you have experienced discomfort for a long time, it’s not the best idea to ignore it. A medical doctor or health professional could assist you to get treatment and lasting solutions to relieve the symptoms you feel. Schedule an appointment with your doctor and bring all the health information you have related to the problem to help your doctor find an ideal solution if at all possible.

Alternative Treatment Options

You may benefit from using a cervical traction device (a device that will stretch your neck and head out to help relieve stress and correct the spine), resting, or even get surgery may be recommended. Praying for healing of injury or discomfort is also one effective way to bring recovery and relief.

Believing that recovery is possible and taking the initiative to find a solution is an important step to healing and improving your physical health overall. A strong combination of fitness habits and simply taking a hopeful perspective moving forward can bring greater effectiveness than you might expect.

Stiff Neck Exercises for Pain Management Video

References and Sources:

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