day can make the muscles around the neck joints tired and overstretched. Driving for long periods of time or looking at your smartphone can have the same effect. If you keep doing this every day, it can displace your neck joints. The fastest way to relieve neck stiffness is exercising the neck by stretching it throughout the day. There are many recommended stretches to safely exercise the neck. Here are a few exercises you can do to reduce pain and stress.
EAR TO SHOULDER
The easy pose Ear To Shoulder Stretch calms and balances your mind and body. The pose facilitates the lateral movement of the neck as well as stretches down shoulder and trapezius muscles.
START: Sit tall on your mat. Look straight with your arms down at your sides.
FINISH: Take a deep breath and as you exhale, bring your right ear down toward your right shoulder. Place your right hand on the left side of your head as it drops over towards the right shoulder. Don’t pull your head over; just allow the weight of your hand to softly guide it down. Inhale as you draw your head back to center and exhale as you repeat the movement to the left. Perform this cycle 7 to 10 times per side before returning to center.
SEATED CLASPING NECK STRETCH
Use your hands to offer a deep stretch for the back of your neck and your upper back. This can be a great stretch for the back of the neck, along with the spinal cord area. And it’s especially good for people who sit at the computer for long hours.
START: Sit comfortably in a chair or on the floor. Clasp your hands and bring both palms to the back of your head. Sitting with a tall spine, ground your hips firmly into your seat.
FINISH: Gently press your hands down toward your thighs, tucking your chin into your chest. As you press down, use the heels of your palms to pull your head away from your shoulders. This will intensify the stretch even more. Hold here for at least 30 seconds, and then slowly lift your head up and release your hands. Perform this cycle 7 to 10 times.
Fish Pose is a great counterpart to shoulder stand and can be an effective way to relieve neck and back pain, improve circulation, and open your chest muscles.
START: Place hands and palms underneath butt and hips. Keep elbows as close together as possible and fingertips facing forward with forearms parallel to each other on the ground.
FINISH: Bend elbows and lean onto forearms, pressing them into the floor. Lift chest up toward the ceiling so that back is arched. Bring elbows toward each other until they’re about shoulder-width apart. Allow head to relax down toward the ground until it touches the mat. If possible, bring your hands into a prayer position and place them on your chest. Breathe here for at least 3 deep breaths. When ready, come out of this slowly and lie on your back for a few breaths to enjoy how great you feel.
SEATED HEART OPENER
Stretch through the front of your neck, chest, and shoulders with this relaxing heart opener. This simple and relaxing backbend will open your chest, neck, shoulders, and abs. It will also increase flexibility in your spine and makes you feel centered and full of energy.
START: Sit on the heels as if coming into Reclining Hero Pose. Lean back and place your palms flat on the floor about 8 – 10 inches behind you so your fingertips are pointing away.
FINISH: Press your hands firmly into the ground to lift the chest high, arching your back and pushing your hips into your heels. To increase the stretch, lower your head behind you, stretching through your throat and the front of your chest even more. Stay for 30 seconds, then lift your head and torso up.
Rabbit Pose opens up and creates space in the thoracic and cervical spine. It stimulates digestion and brings fresh oxygenated blood to the brain. By stretching the muscles of the upper back, shoulders, and neck, you release tension often accumulated by sitting at a desk on a computer all day, or even by mild stress.
START: Sit on your knees. Reach your arms around beside you, gripping your heels with your hands.
FINISH: Tuck your chin into your chest, and bend forward, curling downward until your forehead is on your knees. You should resemble a rabbit curling into a ball. Lift the hips, and begin to straighten the thighs, aiming to get them perpendicular to the floor. The ultimate goal is to have very little weight in the head, about 20%, and to achieve a 90° angle between the thighs and the calves. Grip hard and pull on the heels to take the weight out of the head. You should feel a stretch coming down the neck and into the upper back.