3 Simple Ways to Reduce Neck Pain

At Innovation Physical Therapy, we frequently encounter clients with neck pain. This pain can manifest in various ways, radiating either sharp or dull pain into the upper back, the shoulder blades or even to the skull in the form of headaches. Tense neck muscles, poor posture or stiffened joints can reduce the range of motion, making everyday activities more difficult.

Practicing daily posture correction exercises is vital to counter this lack of motion. These simple stretches relieve and prevent pain; you can accomplish this with minimal or no equipment.

Man holding neck in pain at desk
Therapist massaging neck

Range of Motion Exercises

Gentle stretches can prevent stiffness, and you can perform them almost anywhere. To start, try a simple neck rotation. You should perform neck flexion slowly, tucking the chin first and then rolling the head forward and around, one segment at a time. You can also try a side flexion by dropping the ear to each shoulder to stretch the opposite neck muscles and letting the head fall back to stretch the front of the neck.

When you do this exercise regularly, smooth neck flexion can reduce strain on the lower neck. Be alert for any feelings of pain or dizziness: a pivotal sign of stopping immediately.

Chin Tucks: Reducing Headache Triggers

The following exercise is ideal for you to do when watching TV or even while driving. Tucking the chin releases tension and provides a pleasant, relaxing stretch. Begin by keeping your body straight: this can be achieved by standing with your back against a wall and gently drawing the head back and the chin down.

This motion should cause a mild “double chin.” Hold for up to 5 seconds, then release and repeat for ten stretches. Remember to keep your face gazing straight ahead.

Shoulder Blade Squeezes: Removing the Slouch Factor

Sedentary desk work can cause characteristic rounded shoulders and a collapsed posture. A simple remedy is to take a moment to gently squeeze the shoulder blades together and hold the stretch for up to 10 seconds, repeating ten times as above. This movement counteracts poor posture and can release tension built by prolonged desk work.

Arm Supports: Unweighting the Neck

The sheer weight of the arms and shoulders can put pressure on the lower neck and cause pain. This exercise temporarily relieves the neck of this weight and can have drastic benefits when preventing headaches. Using a thick pillow or cushion, rest the arms for 15 to 20 minutes.

When done regularly throughout the day, the above stretches will correct stooping posture, relieve tightness and pain and soothe tension headaches.

Woman holding neck in pain

More simple suggestions to manage neck pain:

  • Open up your chest frequently by taking hourly breaks from work for a few stretches and deep breaths
  • Be mindful of proper posture while sitting and sit tall, maintaining a tucked chin, slightly retracted shoulder blade
  • When sitting, sit on your sit bones and not your tailbone
  • At night, use a supportive pillow that allows you to sleep without tension in the neck.

Neck pain tends to build slowly, but when managed with daily, gentle stretching and strengthening exercises, tension can be relieved before it has the chance to cause pain and headaches. Fortunately, effective stretching can be done quickly, efficiently and with very little equipment, either at home or in your office.

If you have more questions about neck pain or any of our services, contact one of Innovation Physical Therapy’s experienced physiotherapists by calling one of our five clinics throughout Edmonton, including Riverbend, Belvedere, Namao, or our newest clinic in Southgate Mall.