Up to 70% of Americans experience neck pain at some point of their lives. The human head weighs 10-12 pounds and holding your head in an awkward position can put additional stress on the soft tissues in the neck and muscles. Adding simple exercises to your daily routine that emphasize neck retraction can really make a difference in your neck pain.
Neck Stretch #1 Neck Retraction – Start by sitting down or lying on your back with your face up. Bring your head straight back while keeping your eyes on the horizon. Hold this position for 2-3 seconds, inhale, exhale & then return to beginning position. Repeat this stretch 10 times.
- Neck Stretch #2 Rotation – Start in the sitting position. Bring your head straight back while keeping your eyes on the horizon. Gently turn your head diagonally to the right side so that your nose is over your right shoulder. Hold this position for 2-3 seconds, inhale, exhale & return to your beginning position. Repeat this stretch 5 times on both your right and left side.
- Neck Stretch #3 Flexion – Start by sitting down. Bring your head straight back while keeping your eyes on the horizon. Take both your hands and clasp then behind your head and slowly guide your head down bringing your chin toward your chest. Once you feel a stretch in the back of your neck then stop the stretch. Hold this position for 2-3 seconds, inhale, exhale & return to the neutral position and repeat this stretch 5 times.
- Neck Stretch #4 Head Drop – Start in a seated position and retract your neck backwards so you are looking upward. Gently move your head up and backwards as far as you can go without pain. Hold this position for 2-3 seconds, inhale, exhale & return to the neutral position (neck centered) and repeat this stretch 10 times.
- Neck Stretch #5 Side Bend – Start by sitting down and looking forward. With your right hand gently bring your right ear toward your right shoulder. Stop this stretch when you feel a stretch on the left side of your neck. Hold this position for 2-3 seconds, inhale, exhale & return to your neutral position (neck centered) and repeat this 5 times on each side.
- Neck Stretch #6 Shoulder Blade Pull – Start in a sitting position and bring both of your arms up to your chest at 90-degree angles. Make sure to keep your arms and shoulders relaxed while keeping them still. Then squeeze the muscles between your shoulder blades drawing the shoulder blades closer together. Hold this position for 2-3 seconds, inhale, exhale & return to your neutral position (neck centered) and repeat this 5 times.
Here are some other things you can do to relieve neck pain at home:
- Take a hot shower. With your neck straight let the water run on your neck for at least 5 minutes.
- Use a heating pad on your neck. Placing a heating pad on your neck for a couple of minutes will help to stimulate blood flow.
- When using a heating pad place it on your neck for 15-20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours a day.
- Apply an ice pack to your neck. This will dull the pain.
- When using an ice pack place it on your neck for 10-15 minutes every 2 to 3 hours.
- Get a massage from a local spa.
- Soak your neck in bath salts. Bath salts relieve muscle tension, improve circulation and decrease stress.
- Purchase a balm like IcyHot and apply this to your neck. Balms come with many different applications. IcyHot dulls the pain with the cold and after heats the ache away. Use the balm by massaging it onto the neck area for slight pain relief.
- Replace old pillows or mattresses that might be causing your neck stiffness.
Things you should avoid doing if you are suffering from neck pain:
- Avoid or change any activities that you are doing daily that may be causing your neck pain. For example sitting for long periods of time at a computer.
- Make sure to take breaks during the day, stretch, position your computer monitors at eye level and if you’re on the phone all day purchase headset.
- Avoid doing activities like lifting heavy objects or playing sports that will worsen the pain.
- Do your best to reduce stress and tension in your life.
- Stop smoking! Smoking decreases the blood supply and delays tissue repair, which slows down the healing process.
- Avoid bad posture!
- Avoid grinding your teeth this could be a reason why you are suffering from neck pain.