If you suffer from stiff, tight neck muscles, you know how uncomfortable it can be. Limited range of motion, pain, and headaches are common symptoms. The good news is there are many easy exercises you can do at home to help loosen up those tense neck muscles. With some simple stretches and movements, you’ll be well on your way to relief.
Start with some gentle range of motion stretches. Slowly roll your neck in a circle, gradually making the circles bigger. Do this in one direction several times, then reverse and circle the other way. This helps warm up the neck. Next, look straight ahead and tilt your head so your ear moves toward your shoulder. Hold for 5 counts, then tilt your head so your other ear goes toward the other shoulder. This stretch elongates the neck muscles.
Try some diagonal chops next. Imagine your neck has an axe going diagonally from one side to the other. Drop your chin down toward your chest as you turn your head to look over one shoulder. Then lift it back up as you turn to look over your other shoulder. The chopping motion helps loosen tense muscles.
For even more relief, use your hands to gently massage the back and sides of your neck. Use small circular motions with your fingertips to work out muscle knots. Or simply rest one hand gently on the front of your throat and lean your head back into your hand. Allow the weight of your head to stretch your neck for 30 seconds or so.
If you have a partner or friend who can help, neck rubs can also provide tension relief. Have them use their thumbs or knuckles to apply firm pressure alongside the spine from the base of the skull to the top vertebrae between the shoulder blades. Slow steady movements are best, holding pressure on tight spots for 5-10 seconds before releasing and moving to the next section.
To continue loosening your neck on your own, try chin tucks. Sit or stand with proper upright posture. Draw your chin straight back, keeping your neck long as you tuck. Hold for 5 seconds then release back to start. Do 10 reps whenever your neck feels tight. This stretch opens the back of the neck. You can vary it by turning your head sideways as you tuck.
Lastly, give your upper trapezius muscles some love with a wall stretch. Stand facing a wall a bit more than arm’s length away. Reach one arm up overhead, bending at the elbow to place your palm flat on the wall. Turn your head away from the reaching arm to open and stretch that side of the neck. Hold for 30 seconds, take a break, then repeat on the other side.
With regular practice of these simple stretches and exercises, you’ll notice a difference in your neck’s flexibility and comfort level. Take your time moving through the motions and don’t overdo it. And as with any new exercise routine, stop if you feel pain. A loose, pain-free neck is within reach with these easy handy home solutions for tense muscles. Give them a try and breathe easier!