As few as 20% and as many as 70% of Americans will experience neck pain that hinders daily life.
But for as common as neck tension is, relieving it can be a pain.
The key to relieving neck tension is to strengthen not only the muscles of the neck, but the muscles in the back and chest too.
Here are some of the best stretches for neck pain relief.
What Causes Neck Tension?
Neck tension can be caused by something as common as a symptom of stress, or by something as uncommon as a herniated disc or degenerative disc disease. Nailing down a specific cause to neck tension can be difficult because its something that can grow slowly over time but remain unnoticed.
It’s also difficult to pinpoint because an injury or issue in the back or chest (along with the neck) can also create neck tension. But more often than not soft tissue sprain or displaced anxiety is the cause of neck tension.
- Cervical Rotation
You can ultimately do this exercise anywhere. You can sit, stand or lay down. Just make sure you’re in good posture. Stretching and strengthening the cervical muscles is one of the best neck pain solutions.
Start by looking forward, then slowly rotate your chin to one side, keeping it parallel to the floor. Hold this position for 10 to 30 seconds. Then slowly rotate the chin back to its starting place and repeat the rotation in the opposite direction.
- Chest Stretch
Tight chest muscles can also cause tension for the muscles that help the neck. If you find yourself hunching your head forward, weak or distressed chest muscles could be to blame. It’s key to have a strong chest to support a strong neck.
Start by standing about one foot in front of a wall (facing the wall). Stretch your arms out and press them against the wall, as if you were doing a vertical wall push-up. You want your body to be straight and parallel to the wall.
If you need to move closer or further to the wall to feel comfortable do so, you should feel some resistance, but no pain. Once you’re in position, bend your elbows and push your chest towards the wall. Lead this movement with the chest, not the head, pelvis, or arms.
- Levator Scapulae Stretch
Pain along the sides of the neck or at the base of the neck just behind the shoulders is usually caused by inflammation and pain in the levator scapulae muscle. This type of tension is almost always caused by poor posture, so working on your posture is necessary to ensure long-term comfort.
To stretch the levator scapulae muscle, sitting down, take the arm on the side you want to stretch, and bend it to touch the correlating shoulder blade. Pivot the head so that your forehead is aligned with the opposite knee. With your unused arm place your hand on the back of your head, and gently press it down so that you’re looking at your leg.
How to Relieve Neck Tension
These are only a few of the dozens of stretches and exercises you can use to relieve neck tension. Just remember that the key to a healthy neck is keeping your neck, back, and chest muscles strong and supported.
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