If you’re experiencing neck pain and stiffness, these simple, gentle exercises can help relieve your discomfort. They’re best performed while lying down, using a light pillow or towel to support your neck. You can also do them without any pillows, as long as you’re comfortable.
When you’re lying down, the joints in your neck are unloaded, which means the muscles in your neck and shoulder can relax. This makes it easier to gain more range in your neck with less resistance.
Do these exercises to your comfort level, never push past pain symptoms.
Here are the exercises you can do for your neck pain and stiffness:
Supine Cervical Rotation, and with Overpressure:
Without lifting your head, turn your neck as far as you comfortably can to look over your shoulder. Hold for 15 seconds, then gently push your head a bit further with your hand for 10 seconds. Repeat 3 times on each side. If you want to take it up a notch, use Muscle Energy Techniques (METs) by gently pushing against your hand in the opposite direction for 10 seconds, then relax and move into the direction you’re trying to increase.
Supine Cervical Side Flexion:
Start in the same position as the rotation exercise, then tilt your head to the side so your ear moves closer to your shoulder. Hold for 15 seconds, then apply gentle overpressure on the side of your head to increase the stretch for 10 seconds. Repeat 3 times on each side. To take it up a notch, use METs by gently resisting the side bend to the opposite side for 10 seconds, then release and side bend a bit further according to your comfort level.
Supine Neck Flexion in Supine:
Begin with a gentle chin tuck, then use one of your hands to flex your neck and bring your chin towards your chest while keeping your neck relaxed. Hold for 10 seconds, then relax. Repeat 3 times.
Cervical Extension with Pillow in Supine:
Place a pillow under your upper back, then begin with a chin tuck and slowly allow your neck to go into extension. You can also lift your shoulders up to get more extension through your neck and upper back.
Remember to perform these exercises to your comfort level and discontinue if you feel any discomfort. You can also do these stretches while standing, but make sure to maintain good posture with your shoulders down and back and your chin gently tucked in.
We hope these exercises will help you move your head and neck more comfortably. For more stretches to relieve muscle tension in your neck and shoulders, check out our video here.
Don’t forget to share this with your loved ones!
Safe home exercises to improve neck movement from a physical therapist.