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4 Stretches to Relieve Neck Tension

26 June 2023

Neck tightness and discomfort is a common concern, especially for individuals who have a desk-bound jobs. Since their job often requires them to be hunched over the screen for hours, the neck and shoulder muscles experience strain that results in stiffness, pain, and discomfort.

Neck stretches make a great way to relieve neck tension but are they a long-term solution?

The long-term solution to addressing neck tension lies in preventive care and management which means you have to look at the whole system that's impacting your neck and not just the neck tension itself.

In this post, we look at some of the causes of neck tension and a few stretches that can help relieve neck tension. Moreover, we also look at lifestyle and workstation changes that you need to adopt to relieve neck tension.

Let's get started.



What Causes Neck Tension?

Neck stiffness or discomfort doesn't happen overnight. It's often a result of prolonged poor posture that can lead to that all-too-familiar feeling of tightness and stiffness in your neck and shoulders.

Improper posture causes your head, and shoulders to pull forward. As a result, the muscles in that area have to work harder to pull back your neck and head into alignment. The overwork of your neck muscles leads to the feeling of stiffness and tightness in your neck and shoulders.

One of the other potential causes of neck tension could be shallow breathing. Individuals tend to breathe shallow, especially when they are tense. As a result, the muscles that are naturally designed to be used for breathing, the diaphragm aren't used. Instead, the supporting breathing muscles like the upper trapezius muscles and pectoral muscles are used which causes the neck and shoulder muscles to overwork.

So, the next time you feel neck tension, recheck how you are breathing. If you are breathing diaphragmatically, then your neck pain will likely subside if you incorporate neck stretches into your routine.



4 Neck Stretches to Relieve Neck Tension

The best neck stretches help your body alleviate tension and discomfort. However, sometimes, stretching alone isn't enough to alleviate the stiffness and help you feel better.

While the following stretches will likely relieve neck tension in case of general stiffness and pain in your neck however, if are experiencing more severe symptoms which include numbness and tingling in your neck, arms, hands, and fingers, it's best to connect with your health care practitioner as soon as possible as there may be a potentially more serious cause for your neck pain.

#1. Neck Glide

Start the stretch with a straight neck. Now gradually slide your chin forward and hold the position for 5 seconds before you return to the starting position.

Repeat the stretch at least 10 times.

#2. Neck Extension

You can try out this stretch while you are sitting at your desk or standing. Move your head backward gradually without arching your back such that you are looking upward. Hold the position for 5 seconds before you return to the starting position.

#3. Neck Rotation

The simple neck stretch strengthens neck and shoulder muscles and you can conveniently try it out at your workstation.

Start by looking straight ahead. Now gradually turn your head to the right and hold the position for up to ten seconds. Now return to the original position and turn your head to the left and hold the position for another ten seconds.

You can repeat this stretch several times during the workday while you are working at your screen to prevent neck strain.

#4. Shoulder Shrugs

Start by slowly raising both your shoulders up. Hold the position for 5 seconds before you return to the starting position. Repeat the stretch 10 times and do it after every half an hour to prevent neck tension.

Other Measures to Manage Neck Tension

Neck stretches can make a whole lot of difference in easing the discomfort associated with neck tension.

However, you should also need to take a few measures to address the causes of neck tension as addressing the cause will serve as an effective preventive strategy.

Some of the preventive measures include the following:



Manage Stress

Stress is one of the leading causes of muscle tension especially in your neck, shoulders, and back. Hence, one of the best ways to manage neck tension is to focus on life aspects that are causing stress.

There are several ways you can try to manage stress, some of them which include

Meditation,

Physical activity,

Listening to music,

Taking a break or vacation,

Pursuing a hobby or doing anything that you enjoy,

Being assertive and

Setting healthy workplace and relationship boundaries.



Exercise Regularly

The other measure you can take to relieve neck tension and manage stress is physical exercise. Working out brings numerous health benefits that can range from healthy weight management to injury prevention, muscle strengthening, and boosting the immune system.

Some of the other benefits of exercise include

Improved sleep,

Enhanced concentration and focus,

Improved mental health, and

Increased life expectancy.

To get the most benefits from exercise, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a moderate workout for at least 150 minutes every week. Depending on your age and health conditions, you can adjust your level of activity and the duration of your workout.

Remember, your exercise doesn't always have to look like a weightlifting championship. Instead, a simple workout at the park, a quick walk for 30 minutes at a moderate pace, or swimming are all examples of physical activities that you can conveniently incorporate into your daily routine.

If your work schedule doesn't allow you to head out specifically for a physical activity every day, you can reserve your weekends for exercise. For the weekdays, you can try out physical activities that you can align with your work day like walking to work instead of commuting by car or bus or taking stairs instead of using the elevator.

While there are many physical activities that you can try out and there are multiple ways to incorporate physical activity into your day, the best time for a workout depends on your age, physical ability, and medical history. Hence, it's always best to check with your healthcare provider before you incorporate a physical activity regime into your day.



Create an Ergonomic Workplace

Ergonomics refers to adjusting your workplace, responsibilities, and schedules such that your individual needs and health is not compromised. Basically, ergonomics is all about creating an environment that allows you to perform better while taking care of your health and well-being.

Ergonomics plays a significant role when it comes to the management of neck and shoulder pain. Some of the ergonomic solutions that can help you relieve neck tension include investing in an ergonomic office chair and adjusting it so your body gets adequate support while sitting.

If you are looking for ways to alleviate neck tension by setting up an ergonomic workstation, you need to invest in a comfortable ergonomic office chair that provides enough support to your entire spine as well as your hips and feet. Go for an ergonomic office chair that allows you to maintain a comfortable sitting posture while ensuring that your feet are firmly placed on the floor and your knees are slightly lower than your hips.

The use of an ergonomic office chair also ensures that your arms get adequate support so your neck muscles are not strained.

One of the ergonomic office chairs that can make a great addition to your workplace or home office is the Ergonomic Office Chair BS2. The adjustable ergonomic office chair offers a convenient solution to relieving neck tension and provides an ultimate seating experience. Moreover, it allows you to adjust the height of the chair so you can conveniently place your feet firmly on the ground which helps alleviate pressure off your hips and spine.

Apart from investing in an ergonomic office chair, you also need to ensure that you maintain proper posture while sitting. Keep your back straight and your arms level to the desk. Moreover, your screen should be at eye level, and you aren't craning your neck up or down.

When you are using an ergonomic office chair, don't forget to take short, frequent breaks throughout the workday. By adjusting your position frequently, you can lower the strain on your body that is associated with prolonged sitting.



Limit Your Usage of a Smartphone

At the end of the workday, most individuals end up on their couch and scroll down the screen of their smartphone. Constantly looking down at your phone puts a constraint strain on your neck and shoulder muscles causing intense pain and a condition known as tech neck.

To manage neck tension, it is best to be mindful of how long you are using your smartphone and reduce the usage duration if possible.

Some of the other measures that can help prevent neck tension while using your smartphone include

Holding your phone at eye level and not between your ears and shoulders,

Use headphones, and

Incorporate stretching after using a phone to relax neck and shoulder muscles.

Takeaway

Neck tension is a common health concern that affects millions of individuals around the work, especially the ones who have desk-bound jobs. While neck stretches play a significant role in relieving neck tension, lifestyle adjustments are also important to reduce and prevent neck pain too. By investing in ergonomic workplace solutions and ensuring that you maintain adequate posture, you can reduce your risk of neck tension and associated problems.

If your neck pain persists and continues to worsen over time, it's best to take action as soon as possible and consult a doctor.