Instead of just treating neck pain, it is important to identify and address the underlying cause of the neck pain. The cause may determine the most effective neck exercises.
The most common causes of neck pain are misaligned shoulders, spine and hips and a head stuck in forward static direction. This causes tension to the neck and upper back muscles which leads to neck pain and neck stiffness.
Complete Unit Neck Pain Exercises
The following set of neck pain exercises should be done in sequence and is designed to load bearing joints and re-position the head to alleviate neck stiffness and neck pain.
Some exercises might seem not relevant to neck exercise, but trust me they have everything to do with it.
The shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles are the load-bearing joints and they work together as a unit. In order to completely get rid of neck pain, you need to bring your whole body back in line and not only the neck.
It is always advisable to use your own judgement and if one neck exercise brings discomfort to your body, feel free to move to the next.
1. Static Back Neck Exercises
- Lie on the ground with your legs on a chair. Make sure your hips and knees are at ninety degrees.
- Place your arms on the floor at either 45 degrees or shoulder level with your palms up.
This neck exercise is important because it places your head and shoulders on the same plane, and allows neck muscles and upper back muscles to relax. 5-10 minutes are enough for your back to settle on the floor.
2. Static Extension Position Neck Exercises
- You should start on all fours, with your knees under your hips and your wrists under your shoulders.
- Walk your hands out in front of you about six inches, then shift your body forward so your shoulders stack right over your wrists. Your hips should now be about six inches in front of your knees.
- Allow your shoulder blades to collapse together by keeping your elbows locked out straight.
- Allow your neck to release by letting your neck to hang. This is the most important step.
- Allow your lower back to hang by relaxing your stomach.
Allowing your head to come forward may seem counter-intuitive. However, allowing your head to hang, and keeping your elbows locked out while your shoulder blades collapse together, you are literally unlocking your shoulder girdle, which is most likely stuck in a protracted (forward) position.
Also, your hips and spine are re-positioned into extension, counteracting the constant flexion they experience when you sit.
This neck exercise is somewhat challenging and you will feel a lot going around your wrists, forearm and shoulders, but it is definitely worth it.
3. Static Wall Neck exercises
- Lie on the floor and scoot all the way into the wall with your legs straight up it.
- If you are stiff in your hamstrings, scoot back until your tailbone rests flat on the floor.
- Pull your toes back and tighten your thighs.
- It is important for your feet to be hip-width apart and pointing straight out from the wall.
- Hold this position for 3 minutes.
In this neck exercise, as your thoracic back extends against the hard surface of the floor, the muscles of your neck and upper back will continue to release.
If you keep your toes pulled back and your thighs tight, this neck exercise engages your lower leg muscles without interfering with the upper body.
4. Sitting Floor Neck Exercises
- Sit on the floor with your back up against the wall and your feet hip-width apart.
- Pull your shoulder blades together and down, tighten your thighs, and pull your toes back. Be sure that your feet stay straight. Your head should be touching the wall.
- Hold for 3 minutes.
This exercise will help to keep your spine and shoulders in the right place by activating the muscles of your upper back and shoulders.
- Lie on the floor with your feet together and your knees apart.
- Have your palms up on the floor at 45 degrees to your body.
- Just hang out here and relax for 2 minutes. Your low back will naturally arch off the floor, and you should allow that to happen.
Frog exercises releases the muscles of the inner thighs and groin in addition to alleviating neck pain. Make sure that you breathe and relax noting what is happening to your body. You should feel the muscles of the upper back, jaw and neck relax.
Let the body adjust and settle and avoid texting or chewing gum.