Avoid Stiff Neck with Exercise
By Mary Ann Wilson, RN
If you haven’t exercised your neck regularly in the past, it’s probably STIFF AND INFLEXIBLE. The neck muscles are on constant duty, holding your 10 – 12 lb. head in an upright position. In everyday life, your head often slips forward and down because of gravity and your daily activities.
The position of your head held in this forward position forces the muscles in the back of the neck and upper back to work harder–in this alignment, they need to exert 30 lbs. of force to counteract the weight of your head. This increases the pressure on the discs and bones of the neck.
This is the major reason you feel tightness in the back of the neck. So before we stretch the neck muscles let’s align the neck properly by pulling the chin in – keeping the head high. Relax the jaw and face muscles and open the mouth slightly, so you don’t clench the teeth.
Now, let’s do an isometric exercise – to strengthen the neck muscles.
Be sure not to hold your breath, and if you have high blood pressure, check with your doctor for permission to do isometric exercises.
•Put one hand on your waist and bring the other hand beside your head.
Press the head into the hand GENTLY, don’t let the hand move.
Press right hand to right side of head and release – 4 times.
Drop left ear to shoulder – press right palm down to floor to stretch the muscles you just worked.
Repeat on left side.
•Place hands behind head, elbows out to the sides.
PULL CHIN IN – and move your head back into the hands GENTLY – 4 times. Don’t let the hands of the head move.
Look slowly to the right, then to the left.
The key is to keep the neck aligned and keep the neck movements slow. Always stay in your comfort range.