Neck Exercises

Woman stretching her neck.

There are several reasons why someone would want to do neck exercises. The most obvious one would be to alleviate neck pain. Two other major reasons include keeping the neck muscles strong and increasing flexibility.

Neck Exercises to Try

Before performing these exercises, check with a doctor if you are experiencing any significant neck pain. You want to make sure you don't have a severe injury that the exercises could further aggravate.

Head Tilt

This neck exercise helps with your posture and is good to do before a workout.

  1. Start with your head centered, facing straight ahead, shoulders square.
  2. Tilt your head back until you're looking up at the ceiling.
  3. Slowly return to your starting position.
  4. Repeat the exercise 10 times, being careful to control the movement and not use momentum.

Side To Side Rotation

If you get cramps in your neck, this exercises could help reduce the stiffness.

  1. Start with your head centered, facing straight ahead, shoulders square.
  2. Turn your head to the right as far as you can, until it becomes uncomfortable.
  3. Hold your position for a count of three, and then return to center.
  4. Repeat for the opposite direction.
  5. Hold and return to center, as before.
  6. Do the exercise four more times on each side.

Resistance Neck Exercises

If you want to strengthen your neck, one of your best bets is to do some resistance exercises. Depending on the part of the neck you're trying to target, there are three different ones you can perform. The key is that you don't actually move your neck, but you should feel the muscles working.

Forward

To perform this exercise, start by placing both hands, palms down, on your forehead. Then, perform the following steps:

  1. Push forward with your forehead and back with your hands, using equal force.
  2. Continue to push until you've counted to five.
  3. Relax your hands and your neck.
  4. Repeat the exercise four more times.

Side

For this one, put your hand so that its heel sits right above your ear and your fingers point upward.

  1. Push against your head with your hand while trying to touch your ear to your shoulder.
  2. Hold the posture where neither your hand nor neck actually move for a five count.
  3. Relax your hand and neck.
  4. Repeat the exercise on the opposite side.
  5. Do four additional reps on each side of your head.

Note that you should use the hand on the same side of the head as the one you're using to perform the exercise.

Back

Be very gentle with the back of the neck, as it can be easily strained. Put both hands behind your head so that your fingertips meet in the middle, pointing toward each other.

  1. Try to push your head straight backwards, using only your neck muscles.
  2. Push back with your hands at the same time and with the same amount of force.
  3. Count to five.
  4. Relax the pressure.
  5. Complete 10 repetitions.

For more neck exercises that can help you, consult a doctor or physical therapist. This article is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You can complete each set of exercises up to three times per day as long as you are in good physical condition. It can also help to use a pillow that supports your neck at night and to use proper posture while driving or sitting at a desk.

Neck Exercises