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6 Stretches for Neck Pain

Woman holding on to her neck because she feels pain.
siam.pukkato/Shutterstock.com

Staring at the computer screen all day long, driving, and even a poor-quality pillow could all cause neck pain that can only get worse over time. Focus on these stretching exercises and do them whenever you feel like you need some neck pain relief.

Chin to Chest

When doing neck stretches, it’s important to be gentle and use almost no pressure. Your neck is a delicate area of your body and it can be really easy to cause a strain and even make your pain worse by pulling too hard or pushing when your muscles simply don’t allow it.

Start by finding a comfortable seat and elongating your spine. Make sure you’re not hunched and send your shoulders away from your ears. Interlace your hands behind your head, inhale to prepare and on your exhale, gently pull your head down, chin toward your chest. Stay here for a few inhales and exhales and then slowly come back to the starting position.

Neck pain relief

Alleviate neck pain with these portable heating patches.

Ear to Shoulder

Sit straight and send your shoulders far away from your ears, relaxing your entire upper body. Place your right palm on your left cheek over your head and place your left palm next to your seat for leverage. Inhale, and on your exhale gently pull your head to the right, bringing your ear as close to the shoulder as possible. If the flexibility of your neck muscles doesn’t allow it, don’t push it. Go as far as it’s comfortable for you and focus on your breath.

The deeper your breath, the more relaxed the area so you can notice your head dropping closer to your shoulder with every exhale. Stay for three to five long breath cycles and then do the same thing on the other side.

Neck stretch relief

Best neck traction device to alleviate pain and tension.

Front of the Neck Stretch

Sending your head backward is a very delicate motion so be as gentle as you can, avoiding any tension or force. Allow your body to show you how far it can go without pushing over your limits.

Start by sitting tall and relaxing your shoulders. Bring your palms together and place them under your chin. Inhale and gently push your head back with your fingers, letting it fall as far as it will go. Stay here and breathe. Avoid moving your head left and right to prevent any nerve pinches. After a few inhales and exhales slowly bring your head back to a neutral position.

Neck Stretch Traction Pillow

Alleviate neck pain with this incredible neck stretch traction pillow.

Half-moon Stretch

Start by sitting tall and relaxing your shoulders. Take an inhale and gently bring your head toward your chest, without using your hands to help. Let it drop as far as it will go and then slowly start rolling to your right shoulder. Stay for a second and then roll it back toward your left shoulder. Stay here for a second and repeat the same thing three to five more times.

You can notice the back of your neck stretching with each roll, helping create space in between your vertebrae and relieve any tension around your nerves.

Pillow for pain relief

Pillow that helps you alleviate pain relief.

Diagonal Stretch + Massage

This stretch is a little bit more intense so make sure to do all the other ones before taking a self-massage. Sit tall and relax your shoulders. Grab the left side of your head with your right hand and gently pull forward, allowing your head to diagonally fall to the side. Use the fingers and knuckles of your left hand to gently massage the elongated area, getting deep into the muscle tissue and stretching all the way to the crown of your head.

Massage only until it feels good, and you might feel some warm sensations traveling up to your ears. This is just an increase in blood circulation, what you’re actually trying to achieve with this exercise. Breathe through it and then slowly do the same thing on the other side. Additionally, you can even use a massage ball if your fingers don’t seem to do a good job.

Massage ball

Helps release muscle fascia before stretching.

Let it Hang

One of the best stretches for your neck includes simply letting your head hang, allowing gravity to do its thing. Come into a forward fold, bend your knees as needed, and relax your upper body. You can grab your elbows and sway side to side or simply drop your hands down and just let it hang.

Stay here for three to five long inhales and exhales and then gently roll all the way back up to a standing position.

Trigger point foram roller

Get deep into your muscle fibers with this awesome foam roller.


Neck pain can cause headaches and upper body tension. Don’t neglect it and perform these stretches whenever you feel discomfort. Additionally, you might want to look into massage tools like a massage gun or a foam roller to improve your pain relief.

Karla Tafra Karla Tafra
Karla is a certified yoga teacher, nutritionist, content creator and an overall wellness coach with over 10 years of international experience in teaching, writing, coaching, and helping others transform their lives. From Croatia to Spain and now, the US, she calls Seattle her new home where she lives and works with her husband. Read Full Bio »
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