You may experience pain in your head or neck from tightened muscles, a poor sleeping position, or long hours in the car or at a desk. Stretching exercises can relieve head and neck tension, and also help keep the neck flexible. Never stretch to the point of pain, and if you suffer neck pain due to cervical radiculopathy, or a pinched nerve, perform such exercises only under the guidance of a doctor of physical therapist.
Neck Stretch Pose
The YogaWiz website recommends the neck stretch pose, a yoga posture to relax head and neck. Begin by sitting in easy pose, a comfortable cross-legged position with hands relaxed on your knees. Slowly bring your chin towards your chest while visualizing the space created in the neck. As you inhale, look towards the ceiling, elongating the neck and imagining the opening of your throat and neck. Return head to starting position and repeat three to five times. Keep your head steady and jaws and shoulders relaxed throughout the posture.
Head Tilt Stretch
Sit or stand with head facing forward. Tilt the left side of your head toward your left shoulder, but don’t force the movement; stretch only to the point of gentle resistance. Return your head to the center and repeat on the right side. Keep your head movement slow and smooth.
Head Rotation Stretch
Begin this exercise with your head facing in front of you. Turn your head slowly as far to the left as you are comfortably able. Pause, then return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side. The Fitness Health Zone website recommends performing both the head tilt and the head rotation stretch three times daily, with five to 10 repetitions each time.
Upper Trapezius Stretch
All-About-Abs.com states that intense exercise for the abdominal muscles can place strain on the neck, and recommends moves such as the upper trapezius stretch to relieve neck pain. Anchor your shoulder by placing your right hand behind your back if you are standing, or use your right hand to grasp the side of the chair if you are sitting. Use your left hand to gently press your head, tilting it gently to the left. Stop at the point you feel a stretch, then pause for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat the same stretch on the other side. In variations of this exercise, you perform the same movement while tilting your head either downward or upward.
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