An effective stretching program can enhance the overall function of your body and help reduce your risk of injury. But when it comes to targeting neck pain and stiffness, how do you know which muscles to stretch? By knowing which stretching exercises to perform and what muscles to target for your neck, you can start on a path to becoming pain free and improve your posture at the same time.
All exercises can be potentially harmful if not performed correctly. Here are some tips for stretching exercises;
Stretching sensations should be localized to the muscles being stretched.
There should be no pain or radiating pain (pain moving down your arms) during or after stretching. If pain is present during or after stretching, stop immediately.
All stretches should be held for 20-30 seconds
Improving flexibility to the muscles targeted below will have a tremendous impact on improving your neck pain and stiffness by restoring both balance to the muscles and range of motion to the joints.
1. Upper Trapezius Stretch:
Benefits include: Decreased compression forces on the joints of your neck allowing for increased range of motion at your neck.
2. Pectoralis Major Stretch:
Benefits include: Improved upright posture, balancing out the tightness incurred from a forward slouched, rounded shoulder position. An improved upright posture with your shoulders back takes the tension off of your neck muscles.
3. Scalene Stretch:
Benefits include: Decreased pressure on the nerves that run from your neck down into your arms and decreased compression forces on the joints of your neck allowing for increased range of motion at your neck.
4. Suboccipital Stretch:
Benefits include: Decreased pressure around the nerves at the base of your head and neck, allowing for improved postural alignment of your head and neck.