As mentioned in my previous blog small movements will have a big effect on the neck. This principle underlies the stretches presented here. The good news is that neck issues respond quickly and easily to correct positioning. However, neck stretches are risky. Therefore, in this article I will stick with the notion of “do no harm” and offer instruction only on very basic exercises for the neck. So check out this video. It’s a good place to start if you already experience discomfort, tightness or pain, or if you simply want to prevent them in the future.
The exercises detailed here focus on elongating the neck and rely mainly on shoulder placement to accomplish this goal. I stated in the first part of this series that neck and shoulder placement are intimately related and an adjustment in one area always affects the other. In general, the best things you can do for your neck is to keep your shoulders back and down. (My next series will concentrate on the shoulders, so stay tuned for more information to come.)
With the neck, it’s also helpful to use exercises to strengthen the postural muscles. The first stretch in the video is one example of such an exercise. Take a moment to stand with your back against the wall, tuck in your chin and see what it takes to stand straight for a minute or two. If this exercise is fatiguing it’s an indication that the postural muscles need strengthening. In this case, strengthening these important muscles is a simply a matter of practice.
I want to be clear that, since neck stretches are risky, it is important to go easy. If you push past the initial sensation of tension in your stretch you may hinder progress. These stretches can be overdone so pay attention to how your neck is feeling at each moment. Keep your shoulders down, feel better forever and don’t forget to breath.