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What are the Different Types of Neck Stretches?

Erin J. Hill
Erin J. Hill

There are various types of neck stretches that one may use to loosen stiff joints or to help strengthen the neck after an injury. These can include basic stretches in all directions, and in some cases stretches that are advised by a doctor or physical therapist to help a patient recover. Before doing any types of neck stretches, it’s important to talk with a doctor to be sure that any pain or injuries are not serious and would benefit from proper stretching. In some cases, stretches may worsen or prolong an injury.

Neck stretching should always be done correctly to avoid injury. The neck and back should be kept as straight as possible and jerking movements should be avoided. Looking in a mirror while doing the stretches may help with maintaining proper form. If any movements appear unnatural, uncomfortable, or at an odd angle, they are probably not being executed correctly.

Gently rolling the neck can be a soothing stretch.
Gently rolling the neck can be a soothing stretch.

Basic neck stretches are those used before a workout or when minor stiffness or soreness become a problem after sleeping incorrectly or exercising too strenuously or improperly. The spine should be kept as straight as possible. Any movements that become uncomfortable should be taken very slowly, and stopped altogether if pain become very pronounced. A doctor should be notified if pain is extreme or long lasting.

The first step in basic types of neck stretches is to slowly roll the neck back as if looking toward the ceiling. Next, the neck should be rolled back to being upright. This is followed by similarly slow movements in rolling the neck toward the right shoulder and then toward the left shoulder. Finally, the neck is rolled downward toward the floor and back to the starting position.

Movements should be done as slowly and fluidly as possible with no swift jerks or jolts, as this could cause serious injury. The purpose of these types of neck stretches is to loosen the muscles and tendons and ease mild pain or discomfort. Contrary to popular belief, it is generally not a good idea to roll the neck around in a circle because it is very easy to injure the muscles in this way.

Others types of neck stretches may need to be completed with the help of a physical therapist or physician. This is typically the case for those who have had serious injuries, neck surgery, or an illness that affects the neck or head. Movements will likely be similar, but will need to be performed under close supervision and sometimes with the aid of a brace or other equipment.

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    • Gently rolling the neck can be a soothing stretch.
      By: Kurhan
      Gently rolling the neck can be a soothing stretch.