4 Easy Stretches To Decrease Neck Pain And Discomfort
Dr. Michael Lella Jr. has been posting stretches on instagram and facebook. We have gotten a huge response to them so we are trying to post them all in one place.
Postural Series Stretch No. 1
Do you sit at a desk all day? Does your neck ever feel stiff? Specifically the back or side of the neck? Do you constantly try to stretch or crack it without any significant relief?
This is most commonly caused by muscles that begin in the back of your head and run down the front of your neck. They are called your sternocleidomastoid muscles or SCM. Here is an easy and effective way to stretch these muscles. If done properly, you may be shocked at how much better your neck and posture feel. 3 simple tips:
- Take your hands and apply light pressure to the skin just below the collar bone. Pull down. (I exaggerate this in the video with 3 tugs)
- Retract the neck by performing what is commonly referred to as a chin tuck.
- Extend the neck by rolling your head back.
*CAUTION* If you feel discomfort during any portion of this stretch, STOP, and slowly bring yourself back to the starting position. Your pain may be an indication that you need to see your Physical Therapist for an assessment. Good luck!
Postural Series Stretch No. 2
Do you feel pain or stiffness in the side of your neck or upper shoulder? Here is a great stretch for some major muscles including the upper trapezius which is a common problem area for trigger points and discomfort. I see people attempt this stretch all the time, but they are missing a few major points that make it far more effective and safe.
How to perform:
- Perform a chin tuck; (Shown in previous Postural Series videos)
- Grab the opposite side of your head and gently pull the ear towards the shoulder.
*If performed properly, you should not have to pull the head very far to feel a good stretch. **To make the stretch even more effective you can pin the shoulder down by grabbing the bottom of your chair (demonstrated in the second half of the video). When doing it this way, you will find that even less neck movement is required to feel a big stretch.
**CAUTION If any of this causes your pain to increase, consult a Physical Therapist for further assessment.
Postural Stretch No. 3
This is a variation of my last post, taking that SCM stretch one step further. As discussed in the last stretch, the SCM flexes your neck forward. It also rotates your head to either side. The SCM on the left side of your neck rotates you to the right and vice versa for the SCM on the right side of your neck. If you constantly rotate your head in one direction (this is common with anyone who works with 2 or more computer monitors), you may find that you feel a significantly larger stretch on one side. If so, focus on that side until it feels the same as the other.
How to perform:
- Take your hands and place them just below your collar bone. Apply some pressure and pull the skin down.
- Chin Tuck.
- Roll your head back.
- Look right. You should feel a larger pull on the left side of your neck.
- Look left. You should feel a larger pull on the right side of your neck.
If any of these movements cause discomfort, slowly bring yourself back to the starting position and consult your Physical Therapist for any potential neck issues you may be having.
Postural Series Stretch No. 4
This stretch helps to decompress the area behind the head/neck where the skull and cervical spine meet. It is common to build up tension and pain in this area from poor posture. This is a quick and effective way to release the area and provide some pain relief.
How to perform:
- Take the index and middle fingers of each hand and place them at the base of your skull where it meets the neck.
- Tuck the chin slightly towards the chest.
- Push in an upward and forward direction on the base of the skull.
If any of these movements cause discomfort, slowly bring yourself back to the starting position and consult your Physical Therapist for any potential neck issues you may be having. Good luck!