If you have some tension in your neck, there are some excellent stretching techniques that you can try to help you loosen up your muscles. You may want to perform some stretches even before your neck begins to tighten, to help prevent any pain or stiffness. If you have suffered a neck injury, be sure consult a physician before you try to stretch on your own.
1. Chin-to-Chest Stretch
This is a simple stretch that you can do to relieve your neck pain. Before you begin the stretch, loosen up your neck by gentling turning your head from side-to-side. To start the chin-to-chest stretch, slowly bend your head forward until your chin touches the top part of your chest. Hold this position for a count of five, then slowly raise your head back up. Repeat the stretch 10 times.
You can use your hands to assist with this stretch. Place the palms of your hands on the back of your head. As you bend your head forward, pull down gently to increase the range of the stretch. Stop using your hands if you begin to feel any pain or discomfort.
2. Side-to-Side Stretch
This is another great stretch to use for relieving the tension in your neck. Loosen up by shrugging your shoulders and rotating your head slowly in a circle. To begin the side-to-side stretch, slowly turn your head to the right until you feel your neck muscles tighten. Hold the position for five seconds, then return your head to the starting position. Repeat the stretch for the left side. Do 10 stretches for each side of your neck.
You can use your hand during this stretch as well. Place the index and middle finger of your left hand on the left side of your jaw. As you turn your head to the right, press against your jaw to increase the range of the stretch. Repeat the movement to stretch the left side of your neck.
3. Ear-to-Shoulder Stretch
The ear-to-shoulder stretch will work your neck and upper back. To perform the stretch, slowly bend your head to the right side and try to touch your ear to your shoulder. Do not lift your shoulder up during the stretch. Hold for a count of five then return your head to the center position. Repeat the stretch on the left side. Do 10 stretches for each side of your neck. Make sure that you stretch slowly, so you do not pull a muscle in your upper back.
You can also use your hand during this particular stretch. Place the palm of your right hand on the left side of your head. As you bend your head toward your right shoulder, pull down gently on the left side of your head. Repeat the stretch for the other side of your neck by reversing your position.
4. Head-to-Back Stretch
Another tension-relieving movement is the head-to-back stretch. To perform this stretch, slowly tilt your head back until you are looking at the ceiling. Hold the stretch for a count of five and then return your head to the upright position. Repeat this stretch 10 times.