To alleviate the tension you might be experiencing in your neck, there are a number of natural treatments you can try at home. The following simple stretches can be effective for treating neck, upper back and shoulder pain. Most of the stretches below can be performed while sitting or standing. Remember to hold each stretch for 30 seconds, or a minimum of five to 10 breaths. Do not continue if you experience increased pain while doing the stretches and consult with your health care provider if your symptoms persist or worsen.
The following simple stretches are used to help relieve tension in the neck and back that may be caused from muscle strain, that can arise from stress, prolonged improper posture or repetitive activities or positions.
1. Side or lateral neck Stretch
Technique: Look forward and keep your head up. Keep your hands behind your back. Slowly move your ear towards your shoulder. Do not lift your shoulders up when you tilt your neck to the side. Repeat on the other side.
2. Rotating Neck Stretch
Technique: Keep your spine in an upright position, with your shoulders still and your head up. Rotate your chin gently toward your shoulder. While holding the stretch, do not let your chin fall towards your shoulders - keep it parallel to the floor. Repeat on the other side.
3. Forward Flexion Neck Stretch
Technique: Relax your shoulders and keep your hands by your side or resting on your lap if you are sitting. Let your chin fall forward toward your chest. Do not overstretch the back of your neck by forcing your head down - stay relaxed in the stretch and let the weight of your head do the stretching for you.
4. Diagonal Flexion Neck Stretch
Technique: With your shoulders relaxed and your hands by your side, allow your chin to fall forward toward your chest. Then, lean your head to one side, gently. Do not overstretch your neck by forcing your head downward. Relax and let the weight of your head do the stretching for you. Repeat on the other side.
5. Neck Extension Stretch
Technique: Stand or sitting with your hands by your side or on you lap. Ensure that your shoulders are relaxed. Lift your head, looking upwards. Keep your mouth closed and your teeth together. Repeat on the other side.
6. Sitting Neck Flexion Stretch
Technique: Sit in a chair, cross your arms over one another and hold onto the chair between your legs. Let your head fall forward gently. Do not overstretch the muscle by forcing your head down. Relax and let the weight of your head do the stretching for you.