Video Series: Daily Neck Exercises

A few easy neck stretches and exercises performed every day can help prevent neck pain.

What exercises help prevent neck pain?
Maybe you woke up with a crick in the neck. Or perhaps you have frequent muscle sprains or strains from staring at a computer all day. Daily life puts a lot of wear and tear on your cervical spine (your neck). Fortunately, a few simple exercises and stretches can help your neck be strong, flexible, and mobile—and that can help prevent future pain.

These videos show you how to do 3 neck exercises: chin tucks, side-to-side head rotation, and side bending. Even if you don’t have neck pain right now, you can start doing these exercises each day to keep your neck strong and healthy.

Chin Tucks

Purpose: To stretch your neck and promote good posture.

How to perform a chin tuck while lying down:

  1. Lie on your back.
  2. As you look at the ceiling, lower your chin 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 up to 10 times.

How to perform a chin tuck while seated:

  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 decrease tightness and increase mobility in your cervical spine.

How to perform a side-to-side head rotation while lying down:

  1. Lie on your back.
  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 move your head deeper into the stretch.
  5. Hold for 20 seconds.
  6. Repeat 3 to 5 times per side.

How to perform a side-to-side head rotation while seated:

  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 per side.

Man sitting in 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 reduce tightness in the sides of your neck and improve mobility in your cervical spine.

How to perform a side bending stretch while lying down:

  1. Lie on your back.
  2. Lower your head to the right, bringing your right ear near 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 near 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 per side.

How to perform a side bending stretch while seated:

  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 per side.

In exercise class, group of people 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 prevent and relieve neck pain?
Your cervical spine is a fascinating structure: It not only carries the weight of your head but also allows your head to move in several directions. No other part of your spine can move the way your neck can, but this distinction also makes your cervical spine prone to injury.

Strong spinal muscles, flexible ligaments, stable joints, discs, and bones can help prevent neck pain—and that’s where exercise comes in. When done regularly (ideally daily), simple stretches like the ones demonstrated here can condition your neck by lengthening and strengthening your cervical spine muscles. And if your neck does get injured (eg, whiplash injury), a strong and flexible neck may be better positioned to heal itself than a neck that is stiff and deconditioned.

If I already have neck pain, can exercising hurt me?
Most likely, if you just woke up with neck pain, you’ll want to take it easy and not do any strenuous sports or activities for a few days. But gradually working these exercises into your routine is a great way to take care of your spine. However, if you have persistent neck pain, it’s important to talk to your doctor before doing these exercises. You’ll want to understand the underlying cause of your neck pain before doing these stretches or any other new exercise program.

While these exercises and stretches are simple enough to do at work or while watching TV, they aren’t harmless. Please, contact your spine specialist if you experience any pain or other symptoms (weakness, tingling, numbness, etc.). Increasing neck pain or other symptoms (eg, numbness) could indicate a more serious cervical spine condition (such as a herniated disc) that warrants medical care.

Continue Reading … High-Tech Can Be a Pain in the Neck

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