The 4 Best Exercises to Treat Neck Pain and Stiffness

The 4 Best Exercises to Treat Neck Pain and Stiffness

Ask any physical therapist, doctor, or a fitness professional what the most common problem among their patients is and they'll tell you it's neck pain

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Ask any physical therapist, doctor, or a fitness professional what the most common problem among their patients is and they’ll tell you it’s neck pain. Poor posture, lack of exercise, stress, and even our genetics can contribute to neck pain.

The neck contains a number of vertebrae, which themselves contain a large amount of essential nerves and blood vessels which travel through them. This part of the body is not only complex, but also extremely delicate.

Making sure that we’re using proper form is important in any exercise, especially in the case of the neck.  Remember to keep that in mind when doing these exercises, which will help you strengthen your neck and improve your posture.

  1. Lateral Raises

fit man doing lateral raises with weights in gymLateral raises primarily target the shoulder, specifically the lateral or middle head as its name implies.  Standing lateral raises are also a great exercise which works the core along with the trapezius. The trapezius is one of the biggest muscles in the back, which extends from the lower middle part of the back all the way to the top of the neck.

To do this exercise, you need either a pair of dumbbells or a resistance band.  The Guinea exercise by starting with your hands at your side and your feet about shoulder width apart.  Keep your hands and a promenade position, or pointing to the floor as you bring the weights up until your arms are parallel with the floor.

Since we are doing this exercise to primarily target our neck muscles, we should look to use less weight and more repetitions.  The target should be 15 repetitions to start in each set for a minimum of three sets total.

  1. Chin Tuck

This is a rather simple, yet effective exercise in reducing neck pain by strengthening the neck muscles.  This exercise helps to put the neck and back into alignment to where the head is in line with the shoulders instead of the leaning forward.

The first time you do this exercise, or if your posture is extremely poor, you should do this up against a door jamb or something you can use as a guide to keep your back straight throughout the exercise.

To do the exercise just align your spine with the doorjamb so you can stand up straight, and make sure the back of your head is in contact with a door jamb are whatever you using as a guide.

All you have to do is talk your chin and hold this position for approximately 10 seconds, and then release.  You can repeat this exercise five times at the start, gradually working your way up to 10 repetitions.

  1. Neck Extensions

woman with stiff neck doing neck extensionMany of our neck problems stem from staring down at a computer screen, or staring at our cell phones all day. Neck extensions involve working the muscles which allow the neck to extend upwards against gravity, which helps to correct this problem.

You can do this exercise with resistance bands or even using your own hands to provide resistance. To do this exercise, place your hands or your bands around the back of your head to provide resistance as you try to extend your head by moving it upwards. Bring your head back down to a neutral position to complete one rep.

This exercise is great in that you can easily adjust the resistance if you’re using your hands by simply applying more or less pressure, while being an exercise that you can do throughout the day to relieve tension and pain.

  1. Forward Neck Flex

The forward neck flex help to strengthen the muscles which allows your neck to move forward, or to look down.  To work these muscles we have to put resistance on the area of the forehead, while trying to look down.

This can be done by using our hands, or can be done through the assistance of a machine.  To do this exercise you just apply a resistance on your forehead while trying to move your head down until your chin touches your chest, then returning back to a neutral position to complete one repetition.

This is another exercise which you can do regularly throughout the day whenever you feel the need to.

Additional Ways to Treat Neck Pain

Most of our neck pain has to do with our posture, so doing all that we can to improve our posture should be our number one priority.  The exercises listed here will help improve your posture, however there are some other things that can help relieve your neck pain.

Knowing whether to apply heat or ice when we have neck pain can be key to resolving some of our pain as well.  Chronic neck pain is best treated with heat, while acute injuries are best treated first with ice.  A quick heat application in the morning for about 15 minutes is a great remedy for neck pain after a long night of sleeping in the same position.

Strengthening up the rest of the muscles in your body especially your core is also a great way in which you can resolve neck pain.  Not only are weak neck and back muscles contributing factors to poor posture, but having a weak core is as well. Weak glutes can even contribute to the problem as well, which can radiate up to the neck.

Lastly and certainly not least, if possible periodically take breaks throughout the workday to get up, walk around, and stretch.  Doing so will allow your muscles to relax for a bit, and will definitely ease your neck pain.