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Stretches and exercises for relieving neck pain

Neck pain is a common ailment that affects almost everyone at some point during our lives. It can come about as a result of an injury, medical condition, poor ergonomics or even sleeping on an unsupportive pillow. Before we get started on recommending Neck exercises and stretches for relieving neck pain we would recommend you consult a Medical Professional such as a physiotherapist, physiatrist or physician prior to beginning the exercises especially if the neck pain is a result of an injury or medical condition.

When to Seek Medical Attention

In some cases neck pain may indicate a serious underlying condition that should be evaluated by a physician. If your neck pain is accompanied by the following:

  • Symptoms such as radiating pain into the arm or tingling numbness or weakness
  • Pain following an accident or fall
  • If pain continues for more than a few days
  • Balance or coordination problems
  • Fever, chills or nausea

Seeing a physiotherapist prior to start an exercise or stretching program for relief of neck pain has two excellent reasons:

  1. A physiotherapist will get an accurate diagnosis. Depending on the cause of the neck pain different diagnoses may require different type of exercises.
  2. A physiotherapist can teach you the right exercises with the correct way of doing them. Doing the correct exercises improperly can lead to little to no improvement or even increased pain and symptoms.

While neck stretching and exercises may be uncomfortable when performed as a part of a treatment program or for relief of pain they should NOT cause or increase neck pain. If at any point the exercise is painful or does not feel right then it should be stopped and you should see the help of a physician or physiotherapist.

There can be several causes for your neck pain such as an injury or from a fall or accident. But since the pandemic began more and more people are working from home. Working at home has its advantages but also disadvantages. How many of us have proper ergonomic desks and tables with supportive chairs? Lack of ergonomic chairs or keyboards have many of us hunched over our laptops or those who may slouch on their sofas which can develop worse neck pain or headaches (headaches can come about from neck pain/stiffness).

Here are some stretches that one cause use to help stretch the neck area pain. Use these stretches regularly to help maintain both a healthy posture and strengthen the important neck muscles. You should perform the stretches once or twice a day and try holding each stretch for about 15 seconds each time. You will want to repeat these stretches about 5-8 times per each movement. Proper breathing will help you gain the most from these stretches. Try inhaling when you exert yourself and exhale as you relax. At any point in time if the stretch feels painful or not right stop the stretches and consult with your physiotherapist.

Most of the exercises shown should be easy to do and shouldn’t be painful when doing them. Start of slowly by one set of each exercise per day (a set of 7-8 repetitions). As your neck improves you can increase by either adding more repititions or adding another set. Some of the exercises are:

Stretches and exercises for relieving neck pain

Neck retraction:

You can do this sitting in a chair upright. Bring your head back (push your chin with your finger towards the back of the head) and hold this position for about 10 seconds. Of all the exercises shown this one may feel the strangest. Do this about 7 or 8 times in a set.

Head Drop:

Again this can be done in a seated position where you would retract your neck and slowly move the head up and backward as far as is comfortable.


Sitting in an upright chair bring your head forward with your chin towards your chest. Stop when you feel the stretch and each stretch try to hold for about 10 seconds and then return to normal position. Again try doing a set of these (7-8 times)

Stretches and exercises for relieving neck pain

Side Bend:

Gently tilt your head to the side by pulling your head to the side towards your shoulder. Hold the stretch for about 10 seconds and then repeat the tilt by pulling to the opposite shoulder. Repeat as before by doing one set of these side bends.


As it sounds try rotating your head to the right and hold for a few seconds then rotate the head to the left and holding for a few seconds. Repeat 7-8 times in a set.

Stretches and exercises for relieving neck pain

These are just some of the exercises you can use that will help stretch your neck in relieving some of your neck pain. Besides helping with neck pain relief there are benefits to doing neck exercises even when you have no pain. When the neck chest and upper back muscles become either weakened, tight and/or elongate the shoulders can become rounded and the your head with sag forward. This is poor posture that can put more stress on the spine’s joint and discs as well as the muscles and ligaments. Poor posture can lead to recurrent or even chronic neck pain. These exercises shown are an easy way to help address these symptoms.

Follow the images shown and if you have any questions please contact Dynamic Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Clinic Inc. at 905-273-5433 or via our website.

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