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Neck Exercises

Neck Exercises for
Stiff Neck, Neck Pain Relief, Decreased Mobility, Decreased Range of Motion + Strengthening the Neck Muscles

Exercises for the neck are very important. If done correctly they can increase your range of motion, mobility and strengthen the cervical spine. As you increase the mobility in your neck, you will notice greater range of motion and movement with less stiffness. Why should you even bother with neck exercises, you may ask? Here are some reasons why you should do neck exercises:
  • Neck Pain
  • Stiff Neck
  • Whiplash Injury to the Neck
  • Arthritis in the Neck
  • Pinched nerve in the neck
  • Cervical Radiculopathy
  • To Make the neck stronger, to strengthen the cervical muscles
  • To tone your neck muscles
  • Cervical Muscle Sprain
  • Cervical Muscle Strain
  • Better Neck Posture
  • Increase the flexibility of your neck
  • Have a more youthful looking neck
  • Wake up without neck pain
We will look at
  1. Stretching and Restoring the Range of Motion in the Cervical Spine
  2. Exercises to Strengthen the Neck
Stretching and Increasing Mobility
Below you will find stretching exercises specifically for the neck. If you suffer from a stiff neck or a pinched nerve in the neck, these exercises with give you pain relief. These are good stretches for you neck and will help you keep your neck flexible and mobile. Keep in mind that if you are having neck pain due to a cervical radiculopathy (pinched nerve in the neck), do these exercises under the guidance of your Dr, your trainer or physical therapist.

More pain and neck stiffness means you will have do these exercises slowly and only to the point that you can feel the stretch- you never want to do them to the point of pain. This is especially important if you suffer with neck arthritis or degeneration in the cervical spine. Keeping the joints moving and flexible is very important for patients with arthritis in the neck. The goal of these neck stretches is to:
  • Stretch the Neck Muscles
  • Improve flexibility
  • Restore the full range of motion in the neck
  • Maintain Mobility for patients who have arthritis of degeneration of the cervical spine
  • Increase range of motion in the neck.
  • Decrease neck stiffness
  • Decrease neck pain and inflammation
  • Be able to carry out your activities of daily living without a stiff neck, or neck pain- for example- we want you to be able to check your blind spot with out neck pain while driving
  • Prevent neck pain and upper back pain at the end of the day when you work on the computer all day

In the cervical spine, we are looking to increase range of motion in
  • Flexion (bringing your head and neck forward)
  • Extension (bringing your head and neck back- looking up the ceiling)
  • Lateral Flexion (right ear to the right shoulder, same on the left)
  • Rotation (turning your head and neck from side to side)

*** Always make sure you breathe while doing neck stretches. This is very important as it will help you to relax the neck muscles while taking them through the normal neck range of motion.
Stretches for the Neck: Cervical Flexion and Extension
  1. The first neck exercise is called Cervical Flexion (bringing your chin to your chest) and Cervical Extension (looking up to the ceiling). You want to start by tucking your chin in and gently bringing your head foward and attempting to touch the chin to the chest. Next, gently bend the head backwards as far as it will go. Repeat this exercise 5 times. Forward head flexion is great for those patients who suffer from hypertonic cervical parapinals- which is essentially pain in the back of the neck.
Stretches for the Neck: Lateral Flexion of the neck
  • The next neck exercise is called Lateral Flexion. Bring your right ear to your right shoulder as far as you are able to. Do not rotate or turn your head when you are doing this neck stretch. Then bring your left ear to the left shoulder. Repeat this for 5 times
  • Neck Stretching Exercise: Rotation of the Cervical Spine
  • Next part of the program is called Rotation of the Cervical Spine. In this exercise you want to turn your head to the right as far as you possibly can, trying to bring your chin over your shoulders. When you are doing this neck exercise, do not bring up your shoulders. Hold this position for 3 to 5 seconds. Next do this on the left side of the neck and repeat for 5 times.
  • Stretching  Exercise for the Neck
  • For the last part of the neck stretching exercise you want to stand with you feet shoulder width apart and place your hands behind your head. Bend from side to side, making sure to bend only with the upper back area and not with the waist or hips. Try to reach the upper elbow to the celing. Hold each movement for 3-5 seconds. Now do the same thing with the left side.
  • Standing with your feet apart shoulder length, clasp your hands behind your back, and pull downward toward the floor with your hands. Take a deep breath in and stand on your toes and look at the ceiling while exerting the downward pull. Hold this stance for 3-5 seconds, then exhale slowly. Relax and repeat 5 times.

    Remember neck stretches should always be peformed in a slow and smooth fashion. Especially for those patients who suffer from acute neck pain due to a stiff neck, pinched nerve in the neck, cervical radiculopathy or other severe pain- make sure you do the motions slowly. If anytime you feel neck pain or a "twinge" in the neck, stop doing that exercise immediately. Speak to your Dr about a modified exercise that you can do because of specific neck pain. This home neck exercise program is safe to do at home, but always consult with your treating Dr to make sure that you are in the best health possible to do your own exercises at home without supervision. Finally, remember to breathe and relax while doing the neck stretches.
  • 2) Strengthening the Neck Muscles

    Next we want to discuss a system of exercises that will strengthen the neck muscles. These neck exercises will help to make your neck stronger. This includes your cervical paraspinal muscles, and subocciptial muscles. These exercises are called Isometric exercises. Isometric exercise is a type of exercise involving the static contraction of a muscle without any visible movement in the angle of the joint. In simple terms this means that in these exercises the length of the muscle does not change. As you continue to do these strengthening exercises for the cervical spine you will gain strength in your neck. Over time you should be able to increase the force and number of times you are able to perform the exercises. Exercise to strengthen the neck muscles: Press palms against forehead and push against each other
    1. Press your palms against your forehead and push against each other, resisting motion. Hold this position for 5 seconds and repeat this exercise 3 times.
    Exercise to Strengthen the Neck Muscles: Place your hand agains the side of your head and attempt to bring your ear to your sho
  • With this next cervical strengthening exercise place your hand against the side of your head. Try to bring to your ear to your shoulder, resisting the motion. Repeat this exercise on the other side. Hold each position for 5 seconds and when finished relax slowly.
  • Exercise to Strengthen the Neck: Cup both hands against the back of your head and try to push your head back, resisting motion
  • Cup both hands against the back of your head. Attempt to push your head back, resisting the motion. Hold this position for 5 seconds, and when finished relax slowly.
  • Exercise to Strengthen the Neck: Place your Right hand agains your right temple. Atempt to turn your chin to your right shoulde
  • In the final cervical strengthening exercise, put your right hand against the right temple. Attempt to turn your chin to your right shoulder, resisting the motion. Repeat this on the left side. Hold for 5 seconds, then relax slowly. Do this neck exercise 3 times.

    Doing neck exercises that will make your neck muscles stronger can make you less likely to suffer a cervical sprain/strain. When muscles are weak, we are more prone to injury from everyday activities. Doing strenthening neck exercises will make your neck muscles stronger, will make your neck look healthier and improve athletic performance. These exercises if done correctly can prevent arthritis in the neck and degeneration in the neck joints from progressing. Even if you don't suffer from neck pain, then you will still benefit from the strengthening neck exercises. Finally, there are other products that you can use to strengthen the neck muscles, specifically neck traction with such products as the Cervical traction Pillow and the Pronex Pneumatic Traction Unit.
  • Additional Resources for Neck Pain Relief:
    • Your Daily Neck Pain Free Regime- A Blog about dealing with neck pain every single day.
    • Cervical Traction Neck Pillow- Cervical Pillow that will ensure that your Head and Neck are aligned correctly while sleeping at night. Learn How to Choose the Right Neck Pillow for You
    • Biofreeze Natural Pain Relieving Gel- Works great for muscle spasm and soreness in the neck. Learn how to Treat Tight and Stiff Muscles with Biofreeze
    • Portable T.E.N.S Unit- Portable, battery operated TENS unit that sends electrical impulses to certain parts of the body to block pain signals
    • Pronex Pnuematic Cervical Traction- Home Traction for Neck Pain Relief at Home. Learn how to End Neck Pain By Improving Posture and Doing Cervical Traction
    • Cervical Radiculopathy Information Series:
      • Part I:Neck Pain resulting from a C5, C6, C7, or C8 Radiculopathy
      • Part II: Are Your Severe Neck Pain Symptoms the Result of a Cervical Radiculopathy?
      • Part III: The Causes of Severe Neck Pain Resulting from a Cervical Radiculopathy
      • Part IV: Severe Neck Pain From a Herniated Disc: What are Your Treatment Options?

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