Whether you are in an office chair all day or maybe slept in a weird position, neck pain happens to all of us. Not only is it annoying and uncomfortable, but it can also lead to headaches and serious problems with your upper back.
Here are 6 simple exercises to stretch the muscles of the neck and shoulders. This is not only useful, but also pleasant, especially in the morning after a long sleep, or in the evening after a busy day.
1. Neck Release
- Assume either a standing or a sitting position — cross-legged on the floor or in a chair with your feet flat on the ground;
- Place the left hand on the top of your head and slowly tilt your head to the left. Apply gentle pressure with your hand to increase the stretch;
- To feel a deeper stretch, hold onto your right knee or the seat of the chair;
- Hold on for 30 seconds, then slowly return to the starting position and repeat the stretch on the other side.
2. Seated Clasping Neck Stretch
- Sit comfortably in a chair or on a mat, with a straightened back;
- Clasp your hands and place them to the back of your head. Ground your hips firmly onto the mat;
- Gently press your hands down toward your thighs, tucking your chin into your chest. As you press down, use the heels of your palms to pull your head away from your shoulders;
- Hold for at least 30 seconds, then slowly lift your head up and release your hands.
3. Grounded Tipover Tuck
- Assume child’s pose with the shins and forehead on the floor. Stay here for a few breaths and lengthen your spine as you relax your chest to your thighs;
- Intertwine your hands behind you in a double fist. You can press the heels of your palms together to increase the stretch in your shoulders. Now lift the hands as high as you can;
- Inhaling, shift your weight forward and lift your hips off your heels. Come to rest on the top of your head and extend your hands as close to the floor as you can. Stay here for 10 seconds and then lower your hips back to your heels;
- Continue this cycle five or more times, then release into child’s pose with your arms on either side of your legs.
4. Behind-the-Back Neck Stretch
This is exercise provides a deep stretch in the sides of your neck:
- Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, arms by your sides;
- Place both hands behind your backside, holding your left wrist with your right hand. Use your right hand to gently straighten your left arm and pull it away from you slightly;
- To increase the stretch in your neck, slowly lower your right ear toward your shoulder. Hold the position for at least 30 seconds, then switch sides.
- Lay flat on your back with the arms along the sides of your body, palms facing down;
- Bending your knees with the feet flat on the floor, walk your heels as close as you can to your seat, keeping them hip-width apart. Make sure both feet are parallel;
- With your palms and feet pressing firmly into the ground, lift your hips off the floor;
- Clasp your hands together below your pelvis, extending through your arms. Hold for 30 seconds, continuing to lift the hips high. To release, gently lower your seat back to the ground;
- You can control how much you stretch the back of your neck by how high the hips are lifted.
6. Seated Heart Opener
- Before beginning, stretch and relax the front of your neck, chest and shoulders;
- Noe start by sitting on the heels with your legs together;
- Lean back and place your palms flat on the floor a bit behind you so your fingertips are pointing away;
- Press the hands firmly into the ground to lift the chest high, arching your back and pushing your hips into your heels;
- To increase the stretch, lower your head behind you. Hold for 30 seconds, then lift your head and torso up.