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Neck & Physical Therapy Exercises

Injury, faulty posture, emotional stress and age-related wear and tear potentially contribute to chronic or acute neck pain. Physical therapists prescribe exercises to realign and relax the neck muscles, increase circulation and range of and alleviate pain. While these exercises may effectively treat neck pain and injury, check with your doctor or physical therapist before performing them.

An accurate diagnosis of your neck pain is essential before starting any neck exercise program. Chronic neck pain, resulting from emotional stress, postural misalignment or wear and tear, may respond to exercise therapy, but injuries accompanied by inflammation may require a waiting period.

Warm water and some gentle neck stretching may provide relief. Turn on a warm shower and stand directly underneath the shower head. Draw your chin toward your chest, and let the water pressure massage the back of your neck. Then, raise your chin toward the ceiling, and let the water massage the front of your neck. Tilt your head to the left and let the water pressure massage the right side of your neck. Repeat to the right. Hold each stretch for 30 to 60 seconds.

Israeli physicist Moshe Feldenkrais designed his "Awareness Through Movement" method to increase range of motion and improve movement quality. He often incorporated limb movement with eye motion, as demonstrated in this neck exercise. Sit in an upright position. Take a breath in and as you exhale, turn your head to the right, as far as it will go. Remain in position and move your eyes all the way to the right, and then all the way to the left. Repeat four times, trying to increase the range of motion in your eyes with each repetition. Then, center your eyes and take another breath in. Exhale and turn your head a little bit further to the right. Your range of motion should increase. Repeat the exercise to the left.

Physical therapists at the University of Maryland Spine Program recommend tennis ball therapy for neck pain. Place two tennis balls in a sock. Lie supine and place the sock sideways, just below the bottom of your head. The ball creates traction for your neck, while functioning as a gentle massage tool. Experiment with moving your head from side to side to add mobility exercise to this mini massage routine.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.