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5 Neck Stretches You Should Do Every Day To Relieve Stiffness

You understand the expression "pain in the neck" quite literally.

If you've ever experienced a stiff neck, you understand the expression "pain in the neck" quite literally. It's extremely uncomfortable to deal with and can negatively impede your movement. To treat this exasperating condition, we're here to recommend five neck stretches you should do every day to relieve stiffness.

To learn the most effective course of action for a stiff neck, Eat This, Not That! reached out to Mike Bohl, MD, MPH, ALM, the Director of Medical Content & Education at Ro and a member of our Medical Expert Board, who explains, "Having a stiff neck can be very frustrating because of the pain and limited range of motion it causes." Not only is it painful, but it can also be dangerous to drive and constrain your ability to perform everyday tasks.

Keep reading to learn all about what causes a stiff neck and how you can relieve the discomfort with five neck stretches.

What causes a stiff neck?

mature woman dealing with stiff neck, neck pain, doing neck stretches at her desk

Of course, there are many triggers that can cause stiffness in the neck. Typically, it's the result of sleeping awkwardly or simply straining the muscles in that part of your body, according to the Cleveland Clinic. It can be due to sitting and slouching for long periods of time when working on a laptop or texting. Dr. Bohl adds, "It can also occur from muscle overuse (such as working out a lot or doing a repetitive motion many times) or injury (such as getting whiplash in a car accident)."

In some rare instances, a stiff neck can signify something more serious. Dr. Bohl warns, "Less commonly, neck stiffness can be due to a spinal problem, such as arthritis of the cervical spine. A stiff neck can also be a symptom of meningitis."

If your discomfort doesn't dissipate in a reasonable timeframe or you're also experiencing a headache, fever, or nausea, be sure to check in with your physician as soon as possible to eliminate the possibility of anything that requires prompt attention. But if your pain and discomfort are a common occurrence, Dr. Bohl tells us, "There are many different kinds of stretches you can try, but in this case, often the simplest stretches are the best." Read on to learn how to get relief.

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These are the best neck stretches to do every day to relieve stiffness:

woman doing neck stretches, exercises in chair

When it comes to stretching your neck muscles, you should move your head in various directions as far as you reasonably can. Then, remain in that position for several seconds if you can, being mindful of pain.

"If one position is too painful, don't force it. When a stiff neck is caused by muscle strain (which is the most common cause), it typically resolves itself in a few days, and you'll be able to try the painful stretch again then," Dr. Bohl points out.

The following stretches are helpful in alleviating a stiff neck. Keep them handy so you're ready to tackle any neck discomfort the next time it should occur.

Neck extension: For the neck extension, tilt your head as far back as you can, toward the sky. Hold this position.

Neck flexion: Tilt your head completely forward to perform a neck flexion. Your chin should reach your chest, where you will hold the position.

Lateral neck flexion: The lateral neck flexion starts with your gaze forward and your head tilted to the side. Move so that your right ear is close to your right shoulder. Hold that position, then repeat the flexion on the opposite side.

Neck rotation: Begin the neck rotation by rotating your head completely to the right, then hold it there. Repeat the rotation on the opposite side.

Levator scapulae stretch: Rotate your head right to an approximate 45-degree angle. Look down toward your right underarm, and hold the position. Repeat the movement on the opposite side.

Alexa Mellardo
Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa
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