Figure Of 8 Stretch For Neck Pain
The secret to increasing the mobility and suppleness of your neck over time is to have the necessary skill and awareness to stretch the bones themselves instead of the muscles. This is because stiff necks are stiff from within the spine itself.
The good news is that while there is a trick to stretching the spinal bones it is quite simple and all you need to do is follow this exercise to the letter and you will have success.
- Sit up nice and straight away from the back of a chair / or do it standing. Gently lift the top of your head so that your neck is gently lengthened. Make sure you are facing 100% forward and square – there will be a temptation during this exercise to slightly turn your head so you want to keep a keen focus on keeping facing dead straight forward.
2.Gently lift your right ear upwards towards the ceiling so that you stretch up the side of the neck… keeping your nose and chin facing forward.
3. One your right ear is fully but gently stretched up you start the process of stretching the left ear up towards the ceiling in the same way .. gently! Once you have stretched the left ear upward fully you have completed one full repetition. The next repetition starts as you immediately begin the life the right ear once again.
4. As you continue gently lift each ear with your chin facing forward the individual repetitions flow into one another. The idea is to make it a continuous smooth movement. The best way to self prescribe this is to do it from 3-5 minutes at a time.
*BE GENTLE, the idea is that the number of repetitions loosen the neck as opposed to hard stretching. This exercise can create vastly increased neck mobility over time, but if you try and rush it your could just get sore.
*keep that chin facing forward, this is the secret to mobilising deep into that spinal bones. If you turn your head to the side as you lift the ear up you’ll just turn it into a weak stretch. Hearing little clicks and pops is confirmation you are doing this right.
Neck Flex Stretch For Postural Release
When we hunch habitually it shortens the connective tissue deep in the neck and upper shoulders, over time this shortening contributes to the tightness that so many of us feel day to day. By flexing the neck downwards you lengthen the connective tissue at the back of your neck. Forward flexion of the neck like this is a very safe stretch because it doesn’t compress the spinal joints, this is why we can assist this stretch with a bit of downward hand pressure. Nonetheless it is one to do cautiously, especially if you have a lot of neck pain, almost anything can stir up a neck if it is sufficiently inflamed.
1.Sit up nice and straight away from the back of a chair / or do it standing. Gently lift the top of your head so that your neck is gently lengthened. Make sure you are facing 100% forward and square. Gently drop your head forward whilst keeping the rest of your spine upright. Assess the feeling of stretch in the back of your neck. If it feels like sufficient stretch that it is ‘getting into’ the tightness in your neck just hold it there and breathe for a minute or so.. if you feel you can stretch more progress to step 2.
2. To deepen the stretch interlink your fingers behind your head and gently apply downward pressure to the back of your neck, thus deepening the stretch. A good stretch shoulder be felt up the midline at the back of the neck, this is the connective tissue lengthening. Hold the stretch as deeply as you feel inclined to for a full minute and then sloooowly release back to an upright position.
3. Repeat the stretch with or without hands 3 times. this takes you up to 3 minutes of stretch in total.
*a big part of the secret with this stretch is to stay nice and upright with your whole spine and only flex the neck forward. I you slouch your whole spine forward you will be hunching just like you do at the desk..
*repeat this several times a day.. or more, its not likely you will overdo a stretch like this given that it is potentially a counterpoint to the tightness involved in generating neck pain, shoulder pain and stiffness from sitting poorly up to 8 hours a day.
*seek a balance between forcing and being too gentle, firm but fair is the right spirit. Build up there pressure you exert over weeks and months.
Bonus Exercise – Daily Neck Lifts For Great Posture
This is a simple but powerful trick you can do any time. It is an action that you can take in those moments when you want to correct your posture. Basically what you do is focus gently on the top of your head and lift it a couple of millimetres upwards towards the ceiling, hold it for a few moments then consciously let it back ‘down’.
Don’t consciously try to stay upright.. you won’t. The best way to re-wire your posture is for 2-3 seconds somewhere between 10 and 100 times a day. This is in contrast to ‘trying to sit upright’ this creates internal conflict between the conscious and subconscious. If you are willing to deliberately dip your toe gently in being upright for 2-3 seconds at a time.. notice how it feels then consciously return to your normal posture you will undergo a gradual transformation. Promise.