Four simple stretches to relieve neck pain

neck pain
Neck pain can cause plenty of grief.

Neck pain is something most of us feel at some point. Whether it’s from sleeping in an awkward position, sitting still for hours, or a niggling old injury, that painful ache never seems to stay away for too long.

While a trip to the physio might be in order to fix the problem long term, there are simple exercises you can do yourself at home to offer relief and ease soreness.

Physiotherapist Kusal Goonewardena says these four stretches will gradually increase your range of movement over time.

Remember, it’s important when doing any of these exercises not to push through pain. Some discomfort is ok, but pain is not. Gently ease yourself into the stretch and hold it when you feel the resistance without the pain.

Trapezius stretch

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Put your right arm behind your back, put your left arm on your head, and then with your left hand gently tilt your head to the left hand side. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat three times on one side before doing the other.

Take a look at the stretch in this video from 3:32

Neck rotation with opposite pressure

Turn the head as far as you can tolerate (do not push into pain) and then provide resistance with your hand to the direction you’re going. Hold for three seconds. Release. Continue five times and your range will increase. This activates the muscles in the direction you want to turn.

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Fist under chin exercise

This helps to strengthen the neck and also improve a little traction (stretch to the back of the neck). Make a fist, with your little finger resting on your sternum, and your thumb and forefinger under your chin. Gently use your other hand to push your head forward. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat three times. This helps open up the joints in the neck, therefore reducing pain and increasing mobility.

Self massage at the base of the skull

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Place fingers from both hand either side of your neck bone, right at the base of the skull. You can achieve loosening in the muscles without any equipment, just apply a firm, rotational self-massage for 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side of the skull.

You can see an example in this video from 0:39 seconds.

Key points to remember

Exercises to be done together up to three times per day.
Do not push pain with any of the exercises
If pain increases then decrease the intensity
If pain does not settle always see your treating physician
Read more: Why you have pain in your back

Do you suffer from neck pain? How do you treat it?