Neck pain stretches are an important part of the chiropractic treatment that my patients receive. It should be no surprise that the patients who improve the fastest are those who play an active role in their treatment. All of my neck pain patients are given a set of stretches and exercises that they do at home in order to help them relieve their pain and strengthen weak muscles.
Neck Pain Stretches Help Bad Posture
In most cases of neck pain, the muscles that run down the back of the neck and between the shoulders are over-stretched due to a bad posture which can result in sensations of pain and tightness. Stretching these muscles initially seems counter-intuitive, however, overstretched muscles tend to form trigger points which are small areas of spasm. Trigger points benefit from stretches, even when they are found in muscles that are chronically overstretched. Remember, neck pain stretches should not be painful.
Important neck pain stretches that I give to my patients include a “stabilized lateral neck stretch”. This stretch is performed by sitting on your hand (palm up) and leaning your body to the opposite side. Think about your body weight anchoring your hand down – as you lean slightly away, your neck and shoulder area will begin to stretch. Now tilt your head away from that side as well until you feel a strong but comfortable stretch in your trapezius muscle. Hold this stretch for about one minute for maximum benefit and repeat several times daily.
The double eagle yoga pose is another one of several neck pain stretches that I give to my patients. This stretch is performed by wrapping your arms around each other as the lady is doing in the picture on the left. With your arms wrapped, raise them upward while simultaneously dropping your chin. This should produce a nice stretch that spans your upper back and up the back of your neck. Hold this stretch for about one minute for maximum benefit and repeat several times daily.
A third important stretch that I give my neck pain patients is the doorway stretch. This stretch targets the pectoral (chest) muscles as they tend to shorten because of our daily activities. As the pectoral muscles shorten, the tension from the muscle rounds our shoulders forward which consequently causes our head to move forward to its normal position (known as anterior weight bearing). Stretching the pecs is important as it will help restore muscular balance to the neck and upper back.
To perform the doorway stretch begin by raising your elbows to shoulder level. Move into the doorway so that your feet are on the door sill. Lean into the open doorway while resisting your forward motion with your arms. Don’t lean too far – you should only feel a comfortable stretch across your chest. Hold this stretch for about one minute for maximum benefit and repeat several times daily.