Best neck & shoulder exercises guaranteed to relieve pain fast! FAQs about neck pain.
Table of contents:
- Causes of neck pain
- Less Known Factor Attributing To Neck Pain is Muscle Weakness
- Causes of weak neck muscles
- Exercises to Strengthen Neck Muscles & Alleviate Pain
- FAQs about neck pains
When did you last have a stiff neck?
Do you know the causes and the Do’s & Dont’s when you get a stiff neck?
Have you ever experienced neck and shoulder pain when moving your head?
Do you have recurring headaches from neck pain?
Do you have tingling or shooting neck pain that goes to your arms?
In recent times, neck, back, and shoulder pains are among the top complaints people seek medical advice for. Perhaps because of our work from home (WFH) arrangements due to COVID-19, our lifestyle has taken an even more sedentary turn and placing a lot more stress on our neck and shoulders!
Some people experience neck pain but put up with it until the soreness and discomfort become so debilitating that it hinders their normal activity.
Others may have lived with severe chronic neck and shoulder pain because they have given up trying to find natural and lasting pain relief. While neck, shoulders, and back exercises and stretches can help alleviate and strengthen weak muscles and release tension, sometimes medical advice is needed.
Very often the triggers for neck and shoulder pains are poor posture, sports injuries, exercise-related strains, strenuous repetitive movements.
Causes of neck pain could be:
- Poor posture
- Neck injuries
- Cervical spine disorders – disc degeneration, herniated
- Pinched nerve
- Infections – eg. meningitis
- Tumors and cancer of the head and neck areas
Less Known Factor Attributing To Neck Pain is Muscle Weakness.
DO you have weak neck muscles?
- Neck Instability, shaking, or lack of control
- Inability to hold static postures
- Inability to hold head up due to fatigue
- Need for external support, such as using hands or collar
- Frequent need for self-manipulation such as popping own neck
- Frequent acute pain
- Sharp pain with sudden movements
- Head feels heavy
- Neck gets stuck, locks, or popping sensation with movement
- Feeling relieved in an unloaded position such as lying down
- Limiting the range of motion to avoid symptoms
- Muscles feel tight or stiff
- Lack of confidence or fear of movement
If you answer yes to one or a few of the above, you may be experiencing symptoms of weak neck muscles.
Causes of weak neck muscles
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
Extended bed rest or immobilization
Virus infection & Medications
Exercises to Strengthen Neck Muscles & Alleviate Pain
Please be very careful with neck pain exercises. While neck strengthening exercises can help your neck pain, consult your doctor and ensure that you give your doctor your health information before you start any exercises.
Neck rotation, side bending, flexion, and extension stretching can help to loosen your tight neck, upper back, and shoulder muscles.
Neck Stretches For Tight & Stiff Muscles
There are some great stretching exercises you can do at home on http://www.AskDoctorJo.com.
We are not in any way affiliated with AskDrJo.com but we enjoy her helpful therapy videos. For more information check out her website and Youtube channel.
- Cervical extension. From a natural starting position, gently stretch your neck by bringing your chin to your chest and then looking up towards the ceiling. Hold the position for 5 seconds each time. Repeat 3 times on each side.
- Cervical side-bending. Again, from a neutral starting position, tilt your ear on the same plane to your shoulder on each side. Make sure you are not shrugging your shoulders up. Hold the position for 5 seconds each time. Return to neutral. Repeat 3 times on each side.
- Cervical rotation. Start from the neutral position, turn your head from side to side like you are looking over your shoulder. Hold the position for 5 seconds each time. Return to start. Repeat 3 times on each side.
- Chin tuck. Place your finger on your chin in a neutral position as a marker. You can skip this step at the start. Then tuck your chin backward WITHOUT moving your chin to your chest or up to the ceiling. Return to neutral. Repeat 3-4 times. This is a personal favorite stretch that is able to reset tired neck muscles from poor upper body posture.
- Upper trap stretch. Start from a natural sitting starting position, sit on your hand opposite to the side you want to stretch. Tilt your head towards the free hand. Use your free hand to gently place over your head to gently extend the stretch and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 3 times on each side.
If that is not painful, you can add some pressure with your hands to feel the stretch more.
However, if there is stiffness in your neck, perform these stretches slowly and gently especially when your body is cold in the morning.
Stretches to Relief Neck Pain
Stretching your trapezius and levator scapulae muscles can help to reduce headaches and restore the range of motion for your neck.
Levator scapulae stretch. This is a very helpful stretch and among the top picks personally because anyone with chronic neck pain will likely be able to identify the part of the upper back/neck area we are stretching.
Watch the Youtube video
Take your hand to your upper back, behind your neck. That is the levator scapulae you are going to stretch.
Point your chin to the opposite knee and tilt downwards towards your neck.
Using your other free hand, hold the head down to gently extend the stretch.
Hold for 30 seconds. Keep breathing easy and slow.
Repeat 2 times on each side.
Anterior scalene stretch
Start by placing the opposite hand to the collarbone of the front of the neck (anterior scalene) muscle you want to stretch.
Tilt your chin up towards the side you are stretching.
Feel the pull and hold for 30 seconds. Keeping breaths easy and slow.
Repeat 2 times on each side.
Neck rotation with an opposite thoracic rotation stretch
Fold your arms to your chest.
Turn your head to one side.
Rotate your upper body in the opposite direction while keeping your spine in a relaxed and straight position.
Hold for 30 seconds while breathing easy and slowly.
Return to starting position and repeat for the opposite side.
Repeat 2 times on each side.
Keeping breaths easy and slow.
Doctor Jo is a licensed Physical Therapist and Doctor of Physical Therapy, however, this video is only designed to help you perform the correct technique of exercises that have ALREADY been recommended to you by your medical professional.
They are NOT to take the place of going to your own medical doctor or therapist. Your own therapist will also ensure that you are doing correct techniques with your exercises and stretching.
If these techniques aren’t done right, they won’t do any good, and they could make things worse. So, if you experience any pain while doing these techniques, STOP immediately and see your doctor.
FAQs about neck pains
What is the fastest way to relieve neck pain?
One of the fastest and effective ways to relieve muscle tightness and pain due to strain or fatigue is to use a topical application that is able to target the exact area. Also, it is important to choose a natural product that is able to penetrate the skin to reduce swelling and inflammation.
The Emu Tracks Emu Oil Balm fits all the above properties. It combines the natural benefits of Emu Oil with other herbal extracts such as Wintergreen and Capsicum Annum to soothe tired muscles, reduce muscle tightness and pain. There is gentle warming to improve blood circulation and promote healing. Apply Emu Oil Balm to the surrounding neck area that is painful and you will find that it can reduce stiffness quite instantaneously.
Should I stretch my neck if it hurts?
It depends on the level of pain and stiffness. Consult a doctor if it’s serious enough, so you know your health conditions and the cause of the acute pain.
While the above stretches, routines of proper posture, and exercises can alleviate a lot of neck pain and weakness, we emphasize personal safety and good techniques.
How do I relieve a stiff neck fast?
A stiff neck can happen in the morning or anytime after particularly strenuous activity. It is a strain on the neck muscle or soft tissue.
Apply a cold compress or heat pack to the area.
Perform the above exercises mentioned or only those you can without incurring more pain.
Be intentionally slow and easy.
Apply Emu Tracks Emu Balm to the affected areas often throughout the day or at least twice a day.
The Emu Oil Liniment is also a great application to relieve neck muscle strains. It contains Emu Oil which has been part of the Australian Aborigines’ medical tradition for pain ailments. Research in hospitals and universities shows that Emu Oil is able to penetrate the dermis easily to deliver the benefits of emu oil into the inflamed muscle tissues. The Liniment also combines natural herbal extracts like ginger to gently arm the tissues to improve blood circulation without numbing heat.
Is it OK to exercise with a stiff neck?
Do not exercise if you have severe neck pain that causes headaches and weakness in your hands or arms. Consult a doctor before you resume your exercise, gym sessions, or physical activities.
Exercise is beneficial because it has an analgesic (pain relief) effect and can lower levels of inflammation that cause nerve sensitivity.
So if you work your muscles the right amount – enough to adapt and not resting too much then you will make them healthier, stronger. Together with the above stretching, your neck and shoulder will be less stiff and sore.
Can neck pain be a sign of something serious?
You should be concerned if you experienced numbness, weakness, or frequent pins and needles in your arms. If you have a whiplash injury it is advisable to have it checked by a doctor. Other less common but more serious causes of neck pain can be arthritis, infections, injuries to nerves, vertebrae and spinal cord or cancer.