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Neck and Shoulder Tension Relief Exercises

Updated on August 9, 2016

Effective Remedies for Neck and Shoulder Tension

Do you suffer from neck and shoulder tension? It's really very painful and energy draining. If you do suffer from tension in these areas, there’s a good chance you’re putting strain on other parts of your body in order to get away from the pain. With more and more people sitting at their desks for long periods every day, it’s vital to avoid getting aches and pains in these areas.

So what do you do - go to the chiropractor? Although there's nothing wrong with chiropractors, if you can get neck and shoulder pain relief from doing a simple exercise - why not try this first.

Before making an appointment with doctor or chiropractor, there are a couple of easy and effective remedies for neck and shoulder tension that have helped us and may help to ease your discomfort too. If you incorporate these exercises into your daily routine - you'll be feeling the benefits after only a few days.

Rolling and stretching that area of your body can help to relieve and very often get rid of this sometimes very painful condition of tension in the neck and shoulder area, as well as help with headaches and other aches and pains.

Rolling the neck exercise:

This exercise will loosen tension in the neck and shoulders as well as stretching the spine and adding flexibility and suppleness to the neck and upper shoulder area.

Method:

  1. Sit with straight back on a chair or stand upright with your feet a little apart and knees a little bent. Relax your shoulders in a way that you feel they are sinking down into the ground. Relax your body, keeping tummy in and back straight.
  2. Stretch your neck upward carefully and slowly while you sink your chin until it touches your chest - letting your jaw relax and hang loosely.
  3. Relax your shoulders at the same time try to hold them a little backward.
  4. Now turn your head carefully and slowly toward the right, keeping your chin down - until your nose is parallel with the middle of your right shoulder.
  5. While you hold this position - look over your shoulder as far as you can while you try to stretch your neck even more. Hold this position while you count to 5.
  6. Keeping your neck stretched as much as possible - now turn your head back to the center position where you started off as explained in #4.
  7. Now turn your head in the same way over to the left in a smooth, careful and slow movement - once your nose is parallel with the middle of your left shoulder, look over your shoulder as far as you can while you stretch your neck even more. Hold this position while you count to 5.
  8. Keeping your neck stretched - turn your head/chin back to the center position.

Repetitions:

Dag 1: 2 times - Dag 2: 3 times - Dag 3: 4 times - Dag 4: 5 times

Remember not to make sudden, abrupt movements while doing this exercise as it can be damaging to your neck. Also its important that your shoulders and chin are relaxed. If you’re standing for this exercise remember not to lock your knees, but do keep your tummy in and your back straight.

Important note: These exercises are for informational purposes only. You use them at your own risk. We are not physicians, but are merely passing on tried methods of exercising that have worked for us and others. Please consult your physician before doing any kind of exercises.

Stretching the neck tension exercise

This exercise can be done sitting or standing - whichever suits you best and feel most comfortable with. It will help loosen the muscles in the neck and shoulders. It stretches the spine, adding flexibility and suppleness to the joints and helping prevent tension in the neck and between the shoulder blades.

Method:

  1. Sit with straight back on a chair or stand upright with your feet a little apart and knees a little bent. Relax your shoulders and arms.
  2. Start by stretching your neck upward until you feel that you can’t stretch any further. At the same time relax your face and particularly your jaw. Close your eyes and try to imagine that your shoulders are sinking into the ground and that there’s an imaginary string attached to the ceiling that is pulling your head upward so that your neck is being stretched even more. Now try to put that image into practice - let your shoulders become heavy and sink, while your neck is stretching upward as much as you can.
  3. Now turn your head carefully and slowly toward the right until you feel it stretch. Hold the position for a few seconds.
  4. Turn your head now back to centre and face forward, stretching upward. Hold this position for a few seconds.
  5. Now turn your head carefully and slowly toward the left until you feel it stretch. Hold that position for a few seconds.
  6. Turn your head now carefully and slowly all the way over to the right in one movement - when your head is facing the right side - look over your right shoulder. (While doing this - make sure that your back is straight and shoulders are parallel with your feet).
  7. Now turn your head carefully and slowly all the way over to the right in one movement - when your head is facing the right side - look over your right shoulder.

1 through to 5 are the pre-exercise and warm up positions, while 6 and 7 are the movements of the exercise once the warm up has been done.

Remember not to lock your knees if you’ve chosen to stand for this exercise. Keep your neck and shoulders relaxed, with tummy in and back straight.

Repetitions:

Day 1: 2 times - Day 2: 3 times - Day 4: 4 times -Day 5: 5 times and so on.

What's Your Experience with Neck and Shoulder Tension

How do you get relief?

See results

Comments

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    • starbright profile image
      Author

      Lucy Jones 3 years ago from Scandinavia

      Pamela - great to hear that your tension has been relieved - if only just a little. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. -- Lucy

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

      The exercises felt great and seemed to relieve some of the tension immediately. Thanks for this information.

    • starbright profile image
      Author

      Lucy Jones 4 years ago from Scandinavia

      Glad to have been of help. Doesn't sound good that you're not breathing though :) Watch out for neck tension - there's a lot of it about, especially for those that are working at the computer a lot. Take care and thanks for your comment.

    • Turtlewoman profile image

      Kim Lam 4 years ago from California

      Great tip...it felt good to take a break from writing hubs to stretch my neck. Sometimes I forget to breathe!

    • starbright profile image
      Author

      Lucy Jones 4 years ago from Scandinavia

      Thanks for commenting Emanate Presence and keep on using those exercise bands, they are so good for so many things. Have a great day :)

    • Emanate Presence profile image

      Gary R. Smith 4 years ago from the Head to the Heart

      Very informative and helpful hub. Bookmarked for future reference and voted up and helpful. About ten days ago, after shown by a physiotherapist in Germany an exercise band, I started using it for releasing neck and shoulder tension. Seems to be helping. Thanks for your hub!

    • starbright profile image
      Author

      Lucy Jones 4 years ago from Scandinavia

      @bac2basics: I've used these exercises for years - so almost know they work for this type of thing - but of course we're all unique, so what works for one may not work for all. But I'm so pleased to hear that among the more than 150K readers of this hub - you've had success with it too. Bless you for letting me know.

    • bac2basics profile image

      Anne 4 years ago from Spain

      Hi Starbright. I just read this hub as I have soft tissue damage which will never go away and causes me pain ranging from discomfort to agony, but amazingly after doing this exercise for a few moments and sitting up straight the pain has gone, wow I am impressed and very glad I read this hub.

    • SteveWaugh1965 profile image

      SteveWaugh1965 4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Working behind a computer all day means that I'm particularly prone to neck muscle strains and pains. I'm hoping some of your exercises here will help ;) ....

    • starbright profile image
      Author

      Lucy Jones 4 years ago from Scandinavia

      Alyssa: If these exercises don't work for you, perhaps it's best you visit your doctor. I sympathize with your discomfort.

    • profile image

      Alyssa 4 years ago

      I have tried this and it just dose not work for my shoulder pain ifs been going on for 2 months

    • starbright profile image
      Author

      Lucy Jones 4 years ago from Scandinavia

      Glad to hear these exercises are helping you. If you're still experiencing pain in your neck, the best thing to do is visit your doctor. No point in taking any risky chances. I can't tell you what's wrong - but your best bet is to get expert advice.

    • profile image

      PainBgone 4 years ago

      I tied these exercises and i had pain that would bother me with the slightest movements i did these for a couple days and most of the pain is gone but for some reason when i tense my nech i feel pain or after pain where it hurt the most do you know whas wrong?

    • starbright profile image
      Author

      Lucy Jones 5 years ago from Scandinavia

      I'm sorry this didn't work for you Ivette Camacho. Perhaps your pain is brought on from somewhere else. Many people have used this with great success in relieving the pain of neck and shoulder tension. Hopefully you're not suffering too much, but if you are then a trip to the doctor might be what's best. Take care.

    • profile image

      ivette camacho 5 years ago

      this didn't work for me but i guess its OK and can u please post more stuff like this its great although it dont work!

    • starbright profile image
      Author

      Lucy Jones 5 years ago from Scandinavia

      Hi Peniana.

      I can understand why you'd be perplexed with that. In fact it's quite easy and very doable. To focus on this, I usually close my eyes and concentrate on the body parts I want to move around - sounds weird, but it works for me.

      Try if you can to concentrate on you chest, shoulders and back of the neck. Once you've found your focus on those body parts, make your shoulders 'heavy' and without putting pressure on, move your shoulders downward at the same time make the back of your neck a little rigid and move it upward. This will automatically force your chin downward toward your chest.

      When it's being done properly, the back and back of the head are in alignment and the upper vertebrae (above the shoulder blades) will be stretched, providing space between each vertebrae and pain relief (if any).

      Let me know if this helps you better understand. I'd be happy to help further.

    • profile image

      Peniana 5 years ago

      2.Please explain "Stretch your neck upward carefully and slowly while you sink your chin until it touches your chest - If I am to stretch upward, my chin will not touch my chest, it is either outward where it lines up with the chin or downward, grateful for your clarity on this as I really do want to try it out. Thanks

    • starbright profile image
      Author

      Lucy Jones 5 years ago from Scandinavia

      Thanks to everyone for your generous comments. Happy to have helped out - to those that have tried them with success.

    • Bail Up ! profile image

      Bail Up ! 5 years ago

      Just tried these, so simple but yet so effective. I can't thank you enough. I will incorporate these neck and shoulder stretching exercises into my morning ritual from now on.

    • Pinkchic18 profile image

      Sarah Carlsley 5 years ago from Minnesota

      Thank you for sharing your tips! I will have to try these :)

    • profile image

      dpguillot 5 years ago

      Wow, I've tried rolling my neck and turning my head but not while lowering my shoulders. It really seemed to make a difference. Thanks,

    • profile image

      IainM 5 years ago

      My neck was constantly cracking under the slightest pressure with a left or right tilt before I did these exercises thank you starbright!

    • profile image

      Vuvu Chaz 5 years ago

      ur kidding me.... all the pain is just gone! best advice ever!

    • starbright profile image
      Author

      Lucy Jones 5 years ago from Scandinavia

      To clear up any misunderstanding about chiropractors: this wasn't meant negatively, simply that a chiropractor costs money and if you can get neck or shoulder pain relief from exercise - then why go to the chiropractor!

      This exercise works for most people in providing neck and shoulder pain relief.

    • profile image

      Sharan 6 years ago

      Hi, your instructions are not very clear. In Point #3 of "Stretching the neck tension exercise", you said, "Now move your head carefully and slowly toward the right". When you say "move your head", do you mean "turn the head" or "tilt the head"? Both these movements cause stretching. So, which one is it? The same question applies to Point #5 for the left side.

      Also, Points 6 and 7 both talk of moving the head to the right. One of them should be to the right, and the other, to the left.

      Cheers.

    • profile image

      Jo 6 years ago

      charis, there is nothing wrong with chiropractors - I have been going for several years and don't regret it at all. He always relieves my pain as well as headaches and even asthma. Maybe starbright doesn't know much about chiropractors and what they do.

    • profile image

      charis 6 years ago

      Good article but, why do you say it's not a good idea to to the chiropracter? I've been going for quite a few months now to a very, very experienced one. He's very gentle and it seems so important to align my neck right, which has grown wrong over the years. What's wrong with it though?? I'd really like to know. Anyone???

    • profile image

      yyyy135 6 years ago

      great

    • profile image

      soostressedout 7 years ago

      im so stressed out that i have half dollar sized knots in my neck, im hoping this works for my anxiety to, thank you for posting this, im going to try it.

    • Chachafance profile image

      Charnita Fance 7 years ago from Eufaula, AL

      I'm having this issue now so I'm hoping this will work for me. It's such an awful pain :(

    • profile image

      Janni 7 years ago

      Definitely going to try these for the tension migraines that's been coming at an almost daily basis lately - they're absolutely awful, but I don't want to take too many pills if I can avoid 'em! And with the muscle knots I can feel in my neck and by my shoulders, I'm sure this'll at least bring SOME relief! Thanks so much for sharing. :)

    • starbright profile image
      Author

      Lucy Jones 7 years ago from Scandinavia

      Thanks everyone for your comments and useful input. These exercises are so good for the neck and shoulder areas - and you feel so fresh and almost born again once the ache(s) subsides. Great for stress too - to get rid of it.

    • Shoulder Workouts profile image

      Shoulder Workouts 7 years ago

      Thanks for promoting this! It does work! Way to take ownership!

    • profile image

      kierra 8 years ago

      this was a great streach i think you guys should make some new one's

    • profile image

      Vic 8 years ago

      Great strech. First time I tried this and it feels better alredy. I have been feeling tension on my neck and tightness (stress). Ima continue this and keep you guys posted

    • starbright profile image
      Author

      Lucy Jones 8 years ago from Scandinavia

      Thanks so much everyone for your invaluable comments and input.

    • profile image

      Debski 8 years ago

      i'm hoping these mobilising excercises will help me in my struggle against rebound migraines which leave me feeling so unbelievably tense

    • profile image

      krazz 9 years ago

      I've had a lot of tightness and pain in my left shoulder and neck area. I'm hoping this will work.

    • profile image

      Toronto Chiroprators 9 years ago

      Great step by step to relieving body stress. We all need to take a few minutes everyday to follow simple steps like this. It will pay off 10 fold in the long run.

    • starbright profile image
      Author

      Lucy Jones 9 years ago from Scandinavia

      It certainly does work - and I'm pleased to hear that it does for you too JazLive. Thanks for your useful input.

    • JazLive profile image

      JazLive 9 years ago from Decatur

      Yes, this works! This was one of the excercises I was taught in a "stress and pain management" session. My personal favorite is sitting on the edge of a chair with the back straight in "good posture" -- slowly bend ONLY the head forward and try to move the chin as close to the neck as possible without straining. This stretches the spinal column and helps to diminish upper and lower torso pain.

      Manupulating joints is not like routine excersize [NO PAIN NO GAIN}

      If any movement hurts - STOP! PAIN can translate into injury.

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