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The Ultimate Back Pain Relief Tips Blog

6 Stretches That Are The BEST For Reducing Neck Pain

Posted by Illinois Back Institute on Tue, Jul 07, 2015 @ 04:59 PM

Neck_Pain2aNOTE: Please Read The Disclaimer at the bottom of this page BEFORE performing any stretches!

When most people think of someone with back pain, they might think of pain in the lower back and legs, or the upper back and shoulders. But Neck Pain is also a major source of back pain, and just as serious. Consider the following facts:

Fact #1: The human head weighs between 10 to 12 pounds.

Imagine holding a 10 pound dumbbell in your hand while your arm is stretched out straight in front of you. For most people, after a short amount of time you would be struggling just to keep holding your arm up straight. This is what your neck has to do all day, every day.

Fact #2: Up to 70% of Americans will experience neck pain at some point in their lives

Doing even minor things like holding your head in an awkward position can put additional stress on the muscles and soft tissues in the neck, and cause pain. Performing these simple exercises on a daily basis can make a huge difference in relieving and preventing neck pain.

Stretch #1: Neck Retraction

This stretch can be performed while sitting down, or while laying down on your back with your face up. While keeping your head level, slowly bring your head straight back and hold that position for 2 to 3 seconds. Take a deep breath and exhale, and return to the beginning position. Do this stretch 10 times.

Stretch #2: Rotation

Sit up straight in a comfortable chair. Bring your head straight back while keeping it level, and then gently turn your head to the right so that your nose is over your right shoulder (or as close as you can get). Hold this position for 2 to 3 seconds, take a deep breath and exhale, then slowly release. Repeat for the left side, for a total of 5 stretches on each side.

Stretch #3: Flexion

Start by sitting up straight, and once again bring your head straight back while keeping it in a level position. Next, clasp both of your hands behind your head and slowly guide your head down with your chin moving toward your chest. Stop when you feel a stretch in the back of your neck, and hold the position for 2 to 3 seconds. Deep breath, exhale, return to your original position, and repeat. Do this stretch 5 times.

Stretch #4: Head Drop

Begin in a seated position and slowly lift your head so that you are looking upwards. Move your head up and backwards as far as you can without any major discomfort, and hold this position for 2-3 seconds. Take a deep breath and exhale, release, and repeat for a total of 10 times.

Stretch #5: Side Bend

Begin by sitting up and looking straight ahead. Place your right hand on top of your head and slowly pull your head to the right, so that your right ear approaches your right shoulder. Stop when you feel a stretch on the left side of your neck. Once again hold this position for 2 to 3 seconds before taking a deep breath and then releasing. Repeat this for the left side, and alternate for a total of 5 stretches on each side.

Stretch #6: Shoulder Blade Pull

From a sitting position, lift both of your arms up so they are at a 90 degree angle to your body. Be sure to keep your arms and shoulders as relaxed as possible while also keeping them still. Then draw your shoulder blades together by squeezing the muscles between them, and hold for 2-3 seconds, deep breath, and release. Do this 5 times.

If you suffer with Neck Pain, here are some handy tips to treat it at home:

  • Take a hot shower and let the water run on your neck for at least 5 minutes while keeping your neck straight.
  • Alternate between using heating pads and ice packs. Heat stimulates blood flow and cold dulls the pain. Use the heating pad for 15-20 minutes and the ice pack for 10-15 minutes every 2-3 hours.
  • Soak your neck in bath salts. They can relieve muscle tension, improve circulation, and decrease stress.
  • Purchase a balm to use on your neck. Balms come with many different applications, and one such as IcyHot dulls the pain with cold and then heats the pain away afterwards.
  • Old pillows or mattresses can cause many neck problems. Replace them if possible.


Conversely, here are some tips of things to avoid if you suffer with Neck Pain:

  • Change or avoid any activities that may be causing you neck pain, such as sitting for too long at a computer. Make sure to take frequent breaks during the day to stretch and relax your neck and back.
  • Avoid lifting heavy objects or physical activities that can worsen the pain.
  • Reduce stress and tension
  • Avoid bad posture
  • Stop smoking. Smoking decreases blood supply and slows tissue repair, both of which slow the healing process.
  • Try not to grind your teeth. It can actually contribute to your neck pain.


The Illinois Back Institute is dedicated to educating people, because we know that the more that you understand about your problem, the more likely you are to eliminate it.

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Disclaimer: The content on this web site is for information purposes only and should never be used as the basis for diagnosis or treatment. We always recommend consulting a qualified professional before embarking on any form of self treatment or rehabilitation.

All content is protected by the usual copyright laws and cannot be used, stolen or reproduced for any purpose without Illinois Back Institute permission. Please feel free to call about anything although we are unable to give advice on any specific injuries or conditions over the phone.