Sometimes we wake up to a stiff neck in the morning and there can be various reasons for this cause. The pillow you are sleeping on does not support your neck and head properly which may cause tension in your neck muscles. Sudden movements, such as sitting up too quickly or flinging your limbs during your sleep can strain your neck. Poor posture during the day or working too long at a computer without changing positions could also cause neck pain.
What are some ways to loosen up the tightness we feel around our neck? Below are a few gentle neck exercises that you can do to help relieve some of the built-up tension around your neck muscles.
1. Flexion Stretch
While keeping your shoulders back, bring your chin towards your chest. You should feel a slight stretch in the back of your neck. Hold this position for 15-30 seconds and repeat for 10-15 times.
2. Lateral Flexion Stretch
In an upright position, bring one ear towards one side of your shoulders. Keep going until you feel a stretch on the side of your neck. Hold for 15-30 seconds and repeat for the other side.
3. Levator Scapula Stretch
This stretch can be done with your arms by your side, or if you want to feel the stretch towards your shoulders start by standing straight and raising your hand and elbow and placing it on a wall. Bring your chin to the opposite site of the raised arm aiming towards your collarbone. Hold for 15-30 seconds and repeat with the other side.
4. Corner Stretch
Using the corner of a wall or a doorway, place your forearms on the flat surface with your elbows slightly below shoulder height. Lean forward until you feel the stretch under the collarbone across your chest and shoulders. Hold this stretch for 15-30 seconds and repeat for 3-5 times.
A variation to this stretch is the use of a resistance band. While standing with your feet hip-width apart, hold the ends of the band in each hand. Raise your arms to shoulder height with your palms facing downwards. Your arms should be kept in a straight position, and you should feel some tension with the resistance band. Pull the band apart by brining your upper body into a T position. Hold for 5 seconds while the band is extended. Slowly return your arms to starting position and repeat this for 10-15 times.