These stretches are great during or after a day’s work on a chair. Your neck and shoulders get very tense, and they need to be relaxed. Do these stretches slowly, while breathing deeply. For each exercise, you should feel your neck muscles stretching, and you’re going to hear slight cracking noises as your vertebrae move with your muscles. If you hear clear cracking sounds, please do not continue the exercises, and go see a chiropractor!
I do have to warn you not to strain yourself when working with your neck. It’s a very delicate part of your body, and if you work it improperly, you could injure it permanently and run into chronic pain later on in your life. So be careful!
- Bend your head down and up, looking down at your chest, then up to the ceiling. Repeat 10-15 times. Don’t force the bend, just concentrate on feeling a stretch in your muscles.
- Bend your head side to side as though you are going to touch your ears to your shoulder, all the while keeping your shoulders down. In other words, don’t shrug your shoulders, keep them down and back, with your chest out. Repeat 10-15 times for each side. Don’t force the bend, just concentrate on feeling a stretch in your mucles.
- Rotate your head from side to side in a circular motion.
- Cross your fingers behind your head, and extend your elbows toward an imaginary (or real) wall behind you. Hold for 15-30 seconds while breathing deeply. Let your rib cage expand as you breathe deeply. Pull your elbows as far back as you can, and feel the stretch in your arms and chest.
- This exercise helps me relieve the stress at the base of my skull. Butt your head out above your chest while tensing up your neck muscles and keeping your chin high and out. If done correctly, you’ll feel tension all along the spinal cord in your neck, as the muscles press all of the vertebrae into their correct positions. You will also hear slight cracking noises. Move your head from side to side slightly (not too much!). Relax your neck muscles and bring your head back up into correct posture. Don’t do this last exercise too often, and don’t tense your neck muscles too much. You could hurt yourself with this exercise if you don’t do it right.
- Give yourself a quick neck massage by working the muscles along each side of your spinal column with the tips of your fingers. Do it slowly and delicately. You can also try to press along the base of your skull with your thumb. This may help people with migraines.
Now that you’re done, you hopefully feel much better and are ready to face the rest of your day!