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8 Neck Stretches To Try When You're Feeling Really Stiff

Is your neck sore at your desk? Stand up and do these quick stretches to feel better.


By Cory Stieg, Refinery29
  
At any point during the day, chances are you could use a neck massage. Knowing the reasons why your neck hurts can sometimes help you feel better — you slept funny, you carry an unreasonably heavy bag, or you sit at your desk all day. Sometimes, a simple switch is enough to help your neck, but an estimated 15% of the population deals with chronic neck pain, according to the CDC. Some research even suggests that neck pain is more common in women.
 
[post_ads]You probably can't just go and grab a massage whenever you're feeling tense (massages are expensive!), nor can you convince a friend or family member to rub your shoulders every time you need them to. Luckily, there are some things you can do on your own to ease the pain.

Here are some neck stretches from a few stretching experts: Hakika DuBose, founder and CEO of Power Stretch Studios; Jill Miller, creator of the corrective exercise format Yoga Tune Up and author of The Roll Model Method; and Lindsay Davis, a group fitness manager and instructor at Equinox. Try these right when you wake up in the morning, when you need a break at your desk, or when you're at the gym. With a little imagination, they might feel just as good as getting a neck massage.

Standing Neck Arch

Stand with your feet slightly wider than hips-width apart, and place your palms on the top of your thighs. Bend both knees and sit back, feeling a slight engagement in your glutes, but keeping your spine elongated and straight. Draw your shoulder blades towards one another, and relax your shoulders as you lift your chest, neck, and crown of your head toward the sky, arching your upper back slightly. Hold for 20 seconds, and repeat.
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Shoulder Lean

Place the palm of your left hand on your right ear. Gently press down on your head, so your left ear moves toward your left shoulder. Create distance between your right earlobe and the top of your right shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds. To make the stretch more intense, Davis says to make a first with your right hand, and think about pulling that fist to the floor. Switch sides, repeat.

Hand-To-Neck Support

Interlace your fingers and bring your arms behind your head, so both pinkies are at the base of your head and top of your neck. Open your elbows wide and relax your shoulders. Gently move your thumbs along your spine and press slightly. Lift your skin up a few inches and hold for five seconds, then move the skin back to where you started for five seconds. Alternate up and down for 30 seconds.

Extension With Ball

Place a small stability ball against a wall and sit in front of it, with your back pressed against the ball, and legs extended in front of you. Clasp your hands behind your head. Relax your shoulders and gently lean back into the ball while pressing your shoulders back. Not only will you feel your neck release, but you'll also feel your shoulder and sternum open, DuBose says.
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Let It Go

Sit on the ground with your legs crossed and bring your chin to your chest, slowly dropping your head to the floor. When you can reach your hands to the floor, crawl your fingertips out in front of you as far as you can comfortably go without causing more tension or pain in your body. When you feel like you're at your limit, relax and take three breaths into the tight muscles to release them. Switch legs and repeat. It's normal for each side to feel different depending on your body's imbalances, but just make sure you actually do both sides, DuBose says.

Block Head

Hold the short ends of a yoga block on either side, then lift the block behind your head, so it's resting where your neck meets your skull, Miller says. Walk your fingertips to the edge of the block, and pull the block to your head, while simultaneously resisting your head into the block. Draw your chin inward slightly to create a feeling of lengthening and traction, and hold this for 20 seconds. Miller says this is a neck strengthener and should feel like your neck has been "stretched into a giraffe's neck."

Gaze To Thumb

Start standing and open your arms to a T-position, keeping your elbows straight. Lower your right arm toward the ground, and your left arm up on a high diagonal, so your arms form a straight slope, from fingertip to fingertip. Gaze up toward the thumb of your raised hand, and then slowly turn your head and neck as you shift your gaze onto your right thumb. You can do this stretch rhythmically or statically, Davis says. So either five seconds in both directions for 30 seconds total, or hold the gaze for 15 seconds in each direction, she says.
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Resisted Slow-Motion Rotation

Sit or stand with your spine in alignment, close your eyes, and imagine your head is submerged in clay, Miller says. Sounds weird, but that might help create internal resistance that will make this stretch actually feel good. Slowly rotate your head toward the left.

Resisted Slow-Motion Rotation (cont.)

Maintain the resistance as you tilt your chin towards your left shoulder. Rotate your head down and over to the right, tucking the chin into the right shoulder. Finish with your spine straight, head turned to the right. Repeat this slow pattern for four rounds, then do two rounds with "no resistance" at a slow pace
   
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Health Magazine: 8 Neck Stretches To Try When You're Feeling Really Stiff
8 Neck Stretches To Try When You're Feeling Really Stiff
Is your neck sore at your desk? Stand up and do these quick stretches to feel better.
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