Skip to main content

Manage your neck pain with these 6 decompressing stretches

Stiffness, soreness, and aching make neck pain, well, a real pain. After sitting at a desk for long hours or spending long days with little movement, it’s not uncommon for our necks to feel immobile.

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to decompress and release neck tension. If you’re looking for some ideas on how to relieve your neck pain, keep reading for some of our tips and tricks!

Forward and backward tilt

One of the first methods you should try for neck pain relief is the forward and backward tilt. In a standing or upright seated position, slowly tilt your head forward and back. As you tilt your head, try to tuck your chin as close to your chest as you can. You should feel the stretch at the back of your neck, assuring that those tight tendons are getting some movement.

This method works best when you hold the tilt for a few seconds, so as you lean your head down, hold your chin towards your chest for about ten seconds before tipping your head back again. You can hold the position as long as necessary to feel relief.

Side to side

Similarly, you can also tilt your head from side to side to stretch out a sore neck.

Set yourself up as you did for the position above, and tilt from side to side, holding for ten to thirty seconds. This position aids in mobility and relieves your neck of the tension that builds up when it doesn’t experience enough movement. 

woman sitting on floor and stretching her neck
Dean Drobot/Shutterstock

Circle rotation

Rotating your head in clockwise and counterclockwise circles is an excellent option for loosening the tension on all sides of your neck. 

It’s best to do this exercise in a standing position but that isn’t required. Simply start by leaning your head to one side and then bringing your chin down to your chest. Lean back up on the other side and tilt your head back before bringing it to the starting pose. Slowly complete these clockwise and counterclockwise circles a few times. Three circles in each direction are typically sufficient! 

Shoulder rolls

When we feel pain in our necks, it is often the result of misalignment or stiffness in our spine. Our shoulders, spine, and neck are all closely connected within the body, so relieving pain in one region can often treat pain in the others.

Shoulder rolls are a terrific solution for eliminating neck pain because they activate the top of the spine and promote neck mobility. Bring your shoulders up, as if you’re shrugging, and push them forward. Let them drop into a relaxing position and then repeat. You can do forward or try some reversed shoulder rolls to ensure you hit all the muscles you need to target.

Use a band

Bands are a common tool used in physical therapy and work wonders when decompressing the neck. Hold your band at both ends and pull it taut by extending both arms out to your side so that you are standing in a t-pose. Bring your hands back together, making sure to keep both arms extended, stretch them out to your sides once more.

This stretch is great for arm and back strength but is also wonderful for relieving unnecessary neck tension. You should feel the pull in your shoulders and at the top of your spine. This is crucial in eliminating neck pain, as this will stretch those stiff muscles all through the shoulders, spine, and neck.

person using equipment for a neck wall stretch
Karolina Grabowska/Pexels

Bend at the waist

There are several yoga poses that can relieve neck pain, even something as simple as bending at the waist.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Then, lean forward so that you are bending at the waist as if you were trying to touch your toes. Bring your arms together so that you’re grabbing your elbows and allow your shoulders to relax so that your arms can swing freely.

The weight of your arms being pulled to the ground will stretch the muscles in your upper back near the top of your spine where it meets your neck. It’s best to hold this position for about thirty seconds to get a full stretch.

If the soreness persists, you may need to contact a medical or healthcare professional who can help you with your condition.

Disclaimer: BlissMark provides information regarding health, wellness, and beauty. The information within this article is not intended to be medical advice. Before starting any diet or exercise routine, consult your physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, the United States Health & Human Services department has a free online tool that can help you locate a clinic in your area. We are not medical professionals, have not verified or vetted any programs, and in no way intend our content to be anything more than informative and inspiring. 

Editors' Recommendations

Amelia Wilson
Amelia Wilson (author pen name Amelia J. Wilson) is a content writer in Greenwood, IN. She often enjoys topics on…
If you carry tension in your neck, try these 5 moves
A woman Stretching Her Neck

Sometimes, working too long in front of the computer can cause not only back pain, but also neck pain. And so sometimes, you not only require stretches for back tension, but also specific ones for neck tension. If you carry tension in your neck and suffer from sore and stiff muscles, you’re not alone–neck pain affects approximately 1 in 3 people. There isn't just one cause to tackle, as this pain can be the result of a variety of factors from lousy posture to pinched nerves.

Luckily, because it is such a common problem, there are many common solutions. Stretches and exercises, all of which you can do at home, increase strength and more flexibility in the muscles, decreasing tension and making for more resilient neck muscles.

Read more
Roll out your back pain with these foam roller exercises
woman using a foam roller during exercise

Foam rolling is a major phenomenon in the athletic industry, and it’s not surprising why! Foam rollers can elevate your stretching routine and relieve back pain in a fun, easy, and relaxing way. 
Foam rolling is the use of a large lightweight, foam cylinder that you place on the ground during an exercise or yoga session. You can use a foam roller on all muscle groups, but it's an especially helpful tool to get rid of back pain, providing a deep tissue massage to alleviate tension. If you're ready to save some money and cancel your next massage, check out these tips for foam rolling for pain relief.

Why people love foam rolling
Foam rolling is such a popular method for self-administered deep tissue massage because it provides a deeper stretch than you'd get from touching your toes. The best part is they are inexpensive and simple to use. Moreover, these exercise tools are lightweight which makes them easy to implement into any routine regardless of age, weight, or strength. Thanks to their versatility, you can also include them in deep tissue massages for your arms, legs, neck, and feet, but they’re especially helpful for rolling out back pain.
Foam rollers come in several different softness gradients and sizes to suit anyone’s lifestyle. As a beginner to foam rolling, it’s best to begin with a softer foam roller
rather than a more sturdy one until you get used to the pressure.
Benefits of foam rollers
While research is still ongoing into the clinical benefits of foam rollers, professional athletes and casual gym-goers alike proclaim their amazement at the breadth of uses foam rollers offer. 
For starters, they are a great tool for relieving muscle tension and pain. When you roll your back over a foam roller, you’ll feel the pressure and tension release from your muscles and tendons. The continuous rolling paired with a small bit of pressure will soothe the muscles and improve blood flow, allowing them to relax. Foam rollers can also relieve knots and adhesions in the muscles, thanks to the myofascial release that foam rollers provide.
Myofascial release involves slow and sustained pressure by a professional’s hands on their client’s fascial tissue pressure points. While foam rollers can’t offer the exact massage procedure, they can mimic it in a way that relieves pain and significantly reduces tension in problem areas.
How to use a foam roller
It’s best to start with a softer foam roller before moving on to more sturdy rollers. Once you have your roller, lay down a yoga mat and place the roller on top. Situate yourself so that the roller is perpendicular to your spine and lean back so that your back makes contact with the roller. Start slowly and roll yourself back and forth, reaching from the top of your shoulders to the base of your back. Repeat this a few times using your arms to stabilize yourself.
Once you have this foundational motion down, you can begin experimenting with more pressure, longer holds in sore spots, and even active movement to help loosen any muscle tension.

Read more
If your heels hurt, these 5 stretches relieve the pain
person stretching their foot

Heel pain is the worst. Anyone at any age is prone to it, and for good reason–our heels support the entire weight of our bodies. It’s no wonder that too much standing, walking, or any other on-your-feet activity can cause pain. 

While heel pain is common, most people aren’t quite sure how to combat it. Today we’ve gathered five stretches that can help you relieve heel pain fast so that you can be back on your feet in no time!
Stretch your big toe
It might sound silly, but a long big toe stretch is one of the best ways to treat heel pain. Simply find a chair to sit in comfortably while you do this stretch, bring your leg up so you can grab your big toe and curl it back towards your body. You want to make sure that you are pulling it back enough to feel the stretch in your foot. You should feel the tendons pulling tight, providing your heel with some relief. 

Read more