4 Stretches For Neck Pain And Stiffness


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.


5 Tips For A Healthy Spine

Your spine is a machine that is made to move and remains strong and flexible by staying active. 80-90% people will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives which is why it is important to take a proactive approach to maintaining a healthy spine.

Here are five tips to keeping your back healthy this year

1. Exercise More! A new 2016 research study (systematic review and meta-analysis) links exercise to a 35% reduction in the risk for low back pain. This is just another reason to start an exercise program this year. Reach your fitness goals and minimize your risk for low back pain at the same time.

2. Get more sleep! Sleep quality and quantity play a vital role in maintaining and improving your overall health and well-being. Your spinal discs receive their nutrient supply through diffusion which occurs in an unloaded position while we sleep. Positioning your body in a supported neutral position during the night will allow for all parts of your spinal discs to receive adequate nutrition and stay healthy. Some strategies to get a good night sleep include; Limiting technology use prior to bed, avoid caffeine 4-6 hours before bed, and using relaxation techniques like meditation before bed. It is also recommended that you get 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

3. Strengthen your core! Your core muscles give you stability and help to power every move you make throughout the day. There are outer muscles that move your spine and inner muscles that hold your spine together when you move. Having a strong balanced inner/outer core can help to prevent back injuries. Some of my favorite core exercises include bird dogs, dead bugs, and planks. Check out the videos below.

4. Improve Your Posture!  Poor posture can place abnormal stresses on your spine and over time lead to dysfunction and pain. Sitting places three times more load on your spinal discs than standing. If your day involves a lot of sitting try to ensure good posture by positioning your feet flat on the ground and your back up against your chair. Positioning your body in a supported aligned seated position will help to lessen the load on your spine. Also, avoid sitting for too long, getting up every 20 minutes to stretch and walk around.

5. Get help if you need it! If you do hurt your back, don't wait for the pain to go away. Starting physical therapy within the first 14 days of injuring your low back can save you (on average) $2700.