Do you have a pain in the neck? You are not alone. According to a recent report, neck problems are on the rise in America. The likely culprit is poor posture from overuse of mobile devices, a syndrome that has been dubbed “tech neck.”
Other common causes of neck pain include arthritis or degenerative disc disease, which is worsened by bad habits such as poor posture and slouching over mobile devices.
Neck pain tends to get worse over time if left untreated, so it is important to be proactive. Neck exercises can help.
Neck Exercises to Prevent and Relieve Pain
Neck exercises can provide significant relief from most types of neck pain. Here is a sequence of seven simple yoga stretches that will prevent and relieve pain:
1. Cat and cow stretch (marjariasana and bitilasana)
Get down on the floor on all fours in a table-top position. Your knees should be directly under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. Start with your spine in a neutral position. Take five deep breaths and observe the sensations in your body. On your next inhale, lift your tailbone upwards and look up (cow). On your exhale, drop your chin towards your chest and arch your back (cat). Repeat the cat and cow stretch ten times. Continue to focus on your breathing. Take deep exhales and deep inhales.
2. Thread the needle (parsva balasana)
Return to the table-top position. Swoop your right arm under your body towards the left knee so that your right shoulder and side of your head comes to rest on the floor. Take five deep breaths and observe your body. Repeat on the left side.
3. Easy pose (sukhasana)
Come to a seated position with your legs crossed. Place each foot beneath the opposite knee. If you are unable to cross your legs comfortably, sit on a folded blanket. Your spine should be erect. Align your ears over your shoulders. Keep your pelvis in a neutral position. Rest your hands on your knees. Close your eyes and take 10 deep breaths.
4. Seated twist (sukhasana parivrtti)
On your next inhale, place your left hand on your right knee and slowly twist your torso to the right. Turn your head gently to gaze towards the right. Look over your right shoulder at the wall behind you. Take five deep breaths and observe the sensations in your body. Then switch sides and twist to the left.
5. Extended puppy pose (uttana shishosana)
Come into a kneeling position on your knees. As you exhale, fold forward and place the palms of your hands on the floor. Then walk your hands forward as you move your chin and chest towards the floor. Keep your arms active. Don’t let the elbows touch the ground. Next, drop your forehead to the floor to let your neck relax. Take 10 deep breaths, feeling the spine lengthen.
6. Hero’s pose (virasana)
From a kneeling position, fold your legs under your buttocks and sit with an erect spine. Place your palms down on top of your thighs. Take five deep breaths. Then, as you raise your hands over your head, clasp your hands together and gaze towards the ceiling. Take five deep breaths while observing the sensations in your body.
7. Child’s pose (balasana)
From a kneeling position, separate your knees so they are as wide as your hips. As you exhale, lay your torso between your thighs and place your forehead on the floor. Your hips should nestle down into your inner thighs. Bring your hands to your side. Completely relax and rest your body. Take ten deep breaths.
More Ways to Manage Neck Pain
Doing regular neck exercises will help your pain symptoms subside over time. However, you should always ask your doctor before beginning a new diet or exercise regimen.
After exercising, apply heat or ice to your back or neck. Heat will relax the muscles. Cold will help to reduce inflammation. You may also enjoy taking a hot bath using Epsom salts, which will relax your body and your neck and shoulders.
If you are experiencing radiating pain, weakness, or numbness of an arm or leg, don’t ignore these symptoms. This could be a sign of a more serious condition affecting the vertebrae in the spine, such as a pinched nerve. Make sure to see your doctor.
(You may also want to check out our post on 3 Physical Therapy Tips To Help With Chronic Neck Issues)