EXERCISES FOR A STIFF NECK
- Check your range of motion: Shift your head back, turn your head to the right and notice what you see. Mark it in your mind. Turn your head to the left and mark it as well.
- Release tension in the shoulders and neck: Sit to the front of your chair, arms hanging straight down. Squeeze your right shoulder up. Twist your left arm forward and back 4 times. Reverse sides.
- Stretch the front of the rib cage: Hold onto the back of your chair and allow your torso to tilt forward with your spine straight.
- Bring your head back to stretch the back of the neck: Slide your head backwards as if you are on a railroad car in reverse. Make sure to keep your chin tucked in. Let you head escape forward to the more comfortable position and bring it back again 4 times.
- Stretch the sides of the neck: Bring your head back and drop your right shoulder down. Now drop your right ear down toward your right shoulder to stretch the left side of your neck. Make sure to have your face looking straight forward, not down. Reverse sides.
- Circle your head: Place your hands around your neck forming a bowl for your head alone to rest in. Roll your head around the bowl several times in each direction. Don't move anything from the neck down.
- Recheck your range of motion: Bring your head back, turn your head to the right and what do you see. Compare it to your beginning mark. Reverse sides.
Note: The 6th exercise, circling your head, is the most effective of the series. Make your head motion very small. Try to make the motion equal in both directions. The best of all is to begin the movement in the direction that is counter normal. (If your instinct is to circle your head to the right first, try it to the left first.) If you experience little change in your neck's range of motion, do the head circling again with more attention and with smaller movements.
If we release tension in the shoulders, the neck itself can relax. We can then improve neck health through gentle release, stretch and strengthening. Building Better Balance teaches these essential steps to bring healing to any part of the body that is experiencing problems:
• Work gently to release adjacent joints.
• Release painful joints themselves with gentle movement.
• Stretch the muscles surrounding the problem.
• Strengthen the stabilizing muscles that encircle the area.