Stretching exercises for your neck are just as important as achieving flexibility in other parts of your body. When you sit at the computer, hunch over your desk, sleep in an uncomfortable position on a plane or engage in exercise that challenges your neck muscles, you want to be sure to release the muscular tension.
Dancers are often seen taking the time to exercise their neck muscles. This is because many of their movements involve sharp or circular movements of the head. If you are cycling, you might find yourself constantly looking behind you to look out for cars or other cyclists. When you stretch your neck muscles, you prevent neck pain and injuries.
Warming Up the Neck Muscles
Before you begin stretching exercises for your neck muscles, be sure to first warm them up. Avoid stretching in a cold room. Warm your body temperature by first walking in place for a few minutes. Then begin to warm your neck by tilting your head to your right shoulder and then the left. Proceed with tilting down towards the floor and back, looking at the ceiling. If your neck muscles allow it, begin a slow motion of circling the head around to the right and reverse to the left.
Stretching Exercises for the Neck
Once your neck muscles are warm, you are ready to stretch them. This area of your body is generally more fragile, so you want to avoid any yanking movements. Begin by tilting your head to the right, dropping your ear towards your right shoulder. Keep the head there for a minute. Then tilt to the left. Repeat this several times. Tilt your head to the back, looking at the ceiling and then forward, looking at the floor. Repeat this motion several times slowly. The difference between this and the warm up is that you are holding each position for as long as possible.
The next set of stretching exercises will help to deepen your stretch. Tilt your head to the right, letting your ear drop towards your right shoulder. Then place your right hand on the left side of your head and press down on your head to move it even closer to your right shoulder. You will feel this stretch on the left side of your neck. Repeat the stretch on the opposite side. You can continue this stretch by placing your head in different positions, such as straight down or on a diagonal. This motion helps you to isolate the exact places of your neck in need of stretching.
Stretching Exercises for the Neck While at Work
These same exercises can be done while sitting at your desk at the office. You might be working on a time consuming project and taking no breaks. This is often when neck pain occurs. Take a few minutes every few hours to take a deep breath, circle your neck and tilt your head from side to side and front to back. Many of these neck stretches, such as the tilts and circles, can be done subtly or when you step away for a brief break.