10 Simple Exercises for Neck Pain

Cervical spondylosis, commonly called “Cervical” is a general term for age-related wear and tear affecting the spinal disks in your neck. As the disks dehydrate and shrink, signs of osteoarthritis develop, including bony projections along the edges of bones (bone spurs).

Cervical spondylosis is very common and worsens with age. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the condition is present in more than 90 percent of people aged 60 and older.

Most people experience no symptoms from these problems. When symptoms do occur, nonsurgical treatments like medications and exercise often are effective.

A person can ease the symptoms of cervical spondylosis with a few simple neck exercises. These exercises can help to moderate the impact of the condition and alleviate pain or feelings of stiffness.

1.      Forward and Backward Bend

This is a good exercise to do during work to prevent neck strain.

  • Start with neck straight.
  • Without arching your back, slowly move your head backward so you are looking upward.
  • Hold for five seconds.
  • Return to starting position.
  • Now, slowly tilt your head forwards so that chin touches the chest
  • Hold for five seconds
  • Return to starting position
  • Repeat the cycle five times.

2.      Side Bend

  • Start by looking straight ahead.
  • Slowly lean your head to the left.
  • Hold for 5 seconds.
  • Then, slowly lean your head to the other side.
  • Hold for 5 seconds.
  • Return to starting position.
  • Do ten repetitions.

3.      Side rotation

This is a good exercise to do during work, especially if you have to keep your head in a steady position for extended periods, as in working at a computer. Do this exercise every half hour to prevent neck strain.

  • Start by looking straight ahead.
  • Turn your head to one side as far as it remains comfortable, being sure to keep your chin at a level height.
  • Tense your neck muscles for 5 seconds.
  • Return the head to a central position.
  • Repeat on the opposite side.
  • Repeat this exercise 5 times on each side.

4. Neck Rotation

Purpose: To loosen the neck muscles

  • Start by looking straight head
  • Now, start rotating your neck in clockwise direction
  • Keep your neck muscles slightly tensed while rotating
  • Rotate for 5- 10 times in one direction
  • Now, rotate in opposite direction (anti-clockwise)
  • Rotate for 5-10 times again

5.      Neck glide

Purpose: To stretch your neck muscles and maintain healthy posture.

  • Keep your body straight.
  • Push your chin forward in a way that stretches the throat.
  • Softly tense the neck muscles.
  • Hold this for 5 seconds.
  • Return your head to its center position.
  • Push your head back with the chin held high, and hold for 5 seconds.
  • Carry out 5 repetitions.

6.      Forward and backward resistance

  • Keep your head in a neutral position at all times.
  • Apply pressure to your head in the following positions for 5 seconds then relax.
  • Flexion- place hand at forehead.
  • Extension- place hand at back of head.

7.      Side resistance

This is a good exercise to do during work, especially if you have to keep your head in a steady position for extended periods, as in working at a computer. Do this exercise every half hour to prevent neck strain.

  • Start by looking straight ahead
  • Slowly lean your head to the left minimally.
  • Using your left hand for resistance, use the muscles in your neck to press against it.
  • Hold for 5 seconds, then return to starting position.
  • Then, slowly lean your head to the other side, again moving minimally.
  • Hold for 5 seconds.
  • Return to starting position.
  • Do ten repetitions.

8.      Forward stretching

  • Tilt your head forward so that the chin touches the chest.
  • Softly tense the neck muscles by putting mild pressure with both the hands from the back.
  • Hold this for 5 seconds.
  • Return the head to a neutral position.
  • Carry out 5 repetitions.

9.      Side stretching

Purpose: To decrease tightness in the sides of your neck and increase mobility in your cervical spine.

  • Lean your head down towards either shoulder, leading with the ear.
  • Softly tense the neck muscles by putting mild pressure with the hand from the side.
  • You may also hold onto your chair with the opposite hand.
  • Hold this for 5 seconds.
  • Return your head to the center and repeat on the other shoulder.
  • Carry out 5 repetitions.

10.      Neck shrugs

This is a good exercise to do during work, especially if you have to keep your head in a steady position for extended periods, as in working at a computer. Do this exercise every half hour to prevent neck strain.

  • Start by looking straight ahead.
  • Slowly raise both shoulders up.
  • Hold for 5 seconds, then return to starting position.
  • Do 10 repetitions.

When Should I Start Exercising?

As long as your doctor says it’s OK, you should start as soon as possible to ease stiffness and pain. Resting for too long, usually anything more than a couple of days, will make it harder to get moving again.

Don’t exercise if you have severe neck pain or weakness in your hands or arms. If you get it while you exercise, stop right away and call your doctor.

When Will the Pain Go Away?

Neck pain is common but usually not serious. Your pain should ease within 2 weeks. Full recovery should take 4-6 weeks. As your neck starts feeling better, you can do more of what you’re used to.

Even if the pain leaves, don’t stop exercising.

How Long Do I Need to Exercise?

You should keep doing the moves for 6-8 weeks, even if you stop hurting. This will help keep your neck pain from coming back.