What Are the Best Stiff Neck Exercises?

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  • Written By: Kaiser Castro
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 06 February 2020
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A stiff neck can be caused by a number of reasons, ranging from simply sleeping with at an odd angle, getting hit by an object, or simply pulling a neck muscle while doing some kind of strenuous activity. Stiff neck exercises will focus on the neck muscles, which are usually the part of the neck that will become rigid and sore. Most stiff neck exercises consist of slow circular movements to relieve tension.

It is important to take careful precautions when executing stiff neck exercises. Slow, deliberate movements are key to help to prevent the rip and tear of neck muscles that are in already in pain. Pushing through the discomfort will only aggravate the muscles and extend the healing process. No matter which stiff neck exercises are being used, breathing in and out to supply the body with oxygen-rich blood is extremely important.

The next step is to stretch the muscles in the neck by lifting the chin up to the sky, making sure to stop if there is any pain. Then, the chin should be slowly lowered towards the chest, lightly pressing it into the chest. Gently tensing the muscles in the neck and then releasing is another good exercise and should be repeated a number of times.


After completing these cervical exercises, it is a good idea to thoroughly stretch the lateral muscles in the neck. This can be accomplished by trying to connect the ears to the shoulders, making sure to stop if it gets painful. Moving the head from side to side and then in a circular motion will help to extend the range of the muscles. After a few rounds, these stiff neck exercises will help to loosen up any tension.

If the stiffness is localized in one area of the neck, then peering over the shoulders from side to side can help to alleviate the tension. Turning the head back so that the eyes are peering over the shoulders is the ideal movement, and this position should be held for a few moments. Using the same movement towards the other shoulder can help to balance out the neck movement.

For comprehensive recovery of the neck, stiff neck exercises that also focus on the spine should be incorporated. Strengthening the spine can also help to prevent future injury. By lowering the upper back, and allowing the arms to freely hang in the air, the muscles will be stretched downwards. Letting the body hang will allow gravity to do most of the stretching. The body should be slowly brought back up, while stretching each back muscle on the way to standing.


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