Video Series: Exercises for Cervical Spine Degenerative Disc Disease

These 3 neck stretches and exercises may help you relieve pain and stiffness related to cervical degenerative disc disease.

What exercises help relieve cervical degenerative disc disease?
You can’t undo the effects of cervical degenerative disc disease, but you can strengthen your cervical spine to better manage neck pain and possibly prevent a future bulging or herniated disc. How do you strengthen your neck? Simple stretches and exercises, like the 3 examples featured here, are a great place to start.

Spine experts agree: Doing stretches and exercises as part of a medical professional-directed program can help reduce neck pain and improve function, mobility, and flexibility. Your spine specialist may recommend these 3 stretches for cervical degenerative disc disease: chin tucks, side-to-side head rotation, and side bending.

These exercises are best suited for people (with their doctor’s approval) with cervical degenerative disc disease. If you have lumbar degenerative disc disease, check out this Video Series: Exercises for Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease for stretches that ease low back pain.  

Chin Tucks

Purpose: To stretch your neck and help you maintain proper posture.

How to perform a chin tuck in a lying down position:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  2. As you look up at the ceiling, lower your chin down to your chest.
  3. Hold for 5 seconds. You should feel a gentle stretch from your neck to the base of your skull.
  4. Repeat this movement up to 10 times.

How to perform a chin tuck in a seated position:

  1. Make sure you are using good sitting posture.
  2. As you look forward, move your head back so your chin is tucked down. Nothing beneath your head should move.
  3. Hold for 5 seconds.
  4. Repeat up to 10 times.

Chin tuck exercise.Chin tucks can be performed lying down or while seated and can help ease a stiff neck.

Side-to-Side Head Rotation

Purpose: To ease tightness and increase healthy movement in your neck.

How to perform a side-to-side head rotation in a lying down position:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Move your chin toward your right shoulder. You may use your hand to gently pull your head deeper into the stretch.
  3. Hold this position for 20 seconds.
  4. Move your chin toward your left shoulder. You may use your hand to move your head deeper into the stretch.
  5. Hold for 20 seconds.
  6. Repeat 3 to 5 times on each side.

How to perform a side-to-side head rotation in a seated position:

  1. Make sure you are using good sitting posture.
  2. Move your chin toward your right shoulder. You may use your hand to gently pull your head deeper into the stretch.
  3. Hold for 20 seconds.
  4. Move your chin toward your left shoulder. You may use your hand to pull your head deeper into the stretch.
  5. Hold for 20 seconds.
  6. Repeat 3 to 5 times on each side.

Man sitting in an office performing head rotation exercise.Gently moving your head from side to side can help relieve tight neck muscles and improve flexibility and movement.

Side Bending

Purpose: To decrease tightness in the sides of your neck and increase healthy movement in your cervical spine.

How to perform a side bending stretch in a lying down position:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Lower your head to the right, bringing your right ear close to your right shoulder. You may use your hand to gently pull your head deeper into the stretch.
  3. Hold for 20 seconds.
  4. Repeat the stretch on your left side, lowering your head so your left ear moves closer to your left shoulder. You may use your hand to pull your head deeper into the stretch.
  5. Hold for 20 seconds.
  6. Repeat 3 to 5 times on each side.

How to perform a side bending stretch in a seated position:

  1. Make sure you are using good sitting posture.
  2. Lower your right ear toward your right shoulder. You may use your hand to gently pull your head deeper into the stretch.
  3. Hold for 20 seconds.
  4. Lower your left ear toward your left shoulder. You may use your hand to pull your head deeper into the stretch.
  5. Repeat 3 to 5 times on each side.

a group of people exercising, performing neck side bending stretches.Slow and gentle side bending of your neck toward your shoulder can help stretch tight muscles and improve flexibility of your cervical spine.How do these exercises reduce cervical degenerative disc disease pain?
Cervical degenerative disease can’t be reversed—similar to aging, no treatment can undo that process. However, exercise and stretching may help minimize neck pain and strengthen the surrounding neck structures (eg, muscles, joints) to reduce the possibility of future disc problems.

The stretches demonstrated here are designed to lengthen and strengthen your neck muscles and help you maintain proper posture. The goal is make your cervical spine flexible, strong, and more mobile—these 3 characteristics help the spine to be more resistant to pain and help you better cope with the symptoms of cervical degenerative disc disease. Staying active is also good for people with spinal disc pain because movement helps drive nutrition to your discs.

Can exercising with cervical degenerative disc disease hurt me?
These 3 neck stretches and exercises were designed to be easily incorporated into your daily routine—they could even be done while watching TV. But that doesn’t mean they couldn’t cause injury. To help prevent any harm, always talk to your spine specialist before starting this or any new exercise program.

If you have the green light from your doctor, remember to take things slow and don’t push yourself too far. Cervical degenerative disc disease is a spine disorder that warrants extra care when exercising. If you have questions about how to safely exercise, your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist for strategies on how to get the most benefit from physical activity. And if you ever experience a spike in neck pain or new symptoms (like numbness or tingling) during or immediately after exercising, call your spine specialist immediately.

Continue Reading … Smokers With Cervical Degenerative Disc Disease Have Surgery Earlier and More Often

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