Suffering with a sore back, neck pain, headaches, or tension up the back of your head? Before reaching for pills, give these stretches that relieve neck and back pain a go. Not only will your kidneys thank you, but other benefits of physical therapy stretching include:

  • Improved your range of motion and mobility
  • Pain relief by releasing any tension in the muscles supporting your spine
  • Lower risk of disability triggered by back pain
  • Transformation of poor posture into good posture.
  • Stronger, more flexible muscles and joints that can therefore resist strain and prevent injury.

Neck Side Bend and Rotation

  1. Start in a seated or standing position.
  2. Without leaning your torso or lifting your shoulders, gently tilt your neck towards your right shoulder. Feel the stretch along your neck and into your trapezius muscle (used to tilt and turn your head, neck rotation shrug, steady your shoulders, and twist your arms.)
  3. Relax into the stretch for 30 seconds, then roll your head forward and across until your neck muscles tilt toward your left side. Enjoy the stretch for 30 seconds, and then roll back to the right side.
  4. Repeat these neck stretches five times to release upper back and neck stiffness.

Shoulder Roll

  1. Begin by standing with your arms resting at your sides.
  2. Roll your shoulders backward in a circular motion for five repetitions.
  3. Then roll your shoulders forwards for five rotations.
  4. Repeat the sequence five times.

Overhead Arm Reach

  1. Sit with your feet on the ground and square alignment of your sitting bones.
  2. Reach your right hand above your head and stretch to the left, letting your torso bend until you feel the elongation of your right shoulder and latissimus dorsi (used to stabilize your spine, strengthen your shoulders and back, and support good posture.) Gently hold the stretch for 30 seconds, then lower your arm back down. Repeat five times.
  3. Next, continue the side bending with your left hand extended. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and repeat five times.

Stretching should be your first line of defense against muscle pain and tightness. Contact a physical therapist at The Head and Neck Centers of Excellence for more stretches that relieve neck and back pain and correct the underlying cause of your pain instead of just treating the symptoms.