Neck Pain Exercise Options

Health Update: Neck Pain

Exercise for the neck is very important since weak muscles are related to many painful conditions of the neck and, can contribute to fatigue, irritability, headache, sleep loss, and more. When done correctly (perform slowly, staying within “reasonable” pain boundaries), they can increase your range of motion, reduce stiffness/tightness, and strengthen your neck muscles.

The exercises below combine range of motion (ROM) against light/partial resistance in 4 directions (forwards, backwards, and L/R side bending). To do these correctly: Similar to an arm wrestling contest: 1. Push your head into your hand while moving the head to the end of the range, “…letting the head win” (See A, C, E, G). 2. Repeat this going back in the opposite direction by “letting the hand win” (see B, D, F, H), again, moving through the entire range of motion. ALWAYS push the head into the hands, Make sure you move the head against resistance in BOTH directions, 3 times each (A-B then B-A x3; C-D then D-C x3) then, (E-F then F-E x3, and lastly, G-H then H-G, x3 reps). The trick is doing this VERY slowly (to build motor control and coordination) and to move through the entire “comfortable” range of motion. Repeat 3x slowly. If pain worsens, lighten up on the amount of pressure used or, stop the movement just prior to the sharp pain onset. If you can’t make it to the end of the movement due to pain, make a note of how many reps it took before the onset or increase of pain and how far you could move your head. Do 3 slow reps and then move to the next exercise direction.

These exercises can be performed 1 to 3x/day, according to tolerance, and will increase ROM, increase strength, and build coordination, all at the same time.

Exercises for neck pain relief

(The arrow represents the direction the head is moving and the hands are resisting, but not stopping, the movement; Use light pressure through the full ROM)

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