6 Ways to Strengthen Your Neck and Calm Pain

By Savanna Stone
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Sometimes your neck just hurts. Maybe you were in a car accident. Maybe you were in a fight. Or maybe you were just sitting at your desk all day and the pain came. Most of us just ignore the pain and hope it goes away. But that doesn’t always work. Don't ignore pain! Don’t take a rain check for your neck . . . a rain neck. Be high tech, or high neck, and use the internet (AKA this blog post) to make your pain go away faster by doing some exercises. That way, when you have a pain-free neck, you can do anything and go anywhere you want with traveler’s cheques because you’ll have a traveler’s neck. Whether you’re going to the poop deck (poop neck) or airport check-in (neck-in), you can have a healthy, strong neck. Before you do any exercise, make sure you consult your doctor about your necktor . . . too far?

Before you do these exercises, warm up1 your muscles with Chirp’s Hot & Cold Wrap for 15 minutes, then put it in your freezer for the end of your workout. Exercising and strengthening your neck can also help prevent problems with your shoulders, upper back, and arms.

Prone shoulder lift 3 positions:

Place a rolled-up towel on the ground for your forehead and a pillow on the ground for your abdomen. Lie face down on the pillow and towel. You can also put another pillow under your hips. This is the starting point for all three positions. For each position, do 10 reps, 3 sets, 3 to 5 times a week. Feel free to do each exercise position one after the other.

Position 1: The seal

    • Bring your arms around back to your sides so your hands are by your hips
    • Squeeze your shoulder blades together and lift your arms off the floor 2 to 4 inches
    • Return to the starting position and relax your shoulder blades

Position 2: The airplane

    • Straighten your arms out to the sides as if you are an airplane
    • Squeeze your shoulder blades together and lift your arms 2 to 4 inches off the ground
    • Slowly lower your arms back to the starting position and relax your shoulder blades

Position 3: The superman

    • Straighten your arms forward kind of like superman but without fists
    • If straight forward isn’t comfortable, it is okay to bring your arms outwards diagonally
    • Squeeze your shoulder blades together and lift your arms 2 to 4 inches off the ground
    • Return to the starting position

While doing these three exercises, always squeeze your shoulder blades first and then lift your arms. Don’t lift your legs or head, don’t squeeze your buttocks, and don’t forget to breathe. 

Ear to shoulder:

With this exercise and the next few exercises, you can use exercise or resistance bands2 for a better workout (If you don’t have resistance bands, you can use your hands, but the bands seem to be more effective). You’ll want to start with the least-strength resistance band if you’re doing this exercise for the first time. For the ear to shoulder exercise, wrap the band around one side of your head and hold the band out from your head in place with your hand. Tilt your head just a few inches away from the hand, holding the band so your ear goes toward your shoulder as the band strengthens your muscles from the resistance. Try this exercise on both sides of your neck.

The chin tuck or double chin:

This exercise is one of the most common for neck pain. It corrects sore muscles from bad posture like leading with your chin or nerd-neck. To do this exercise, wrap the band around the back of your head and pull your head back so that you have more chins. The band should act as extra resistance. If the band pulls on your hair, you might try putting the band behind your neck, but you might not get as good of an exercise that way. Hold this double-chin position for 2 to 10 seconds depending on how strong your neck is. Repeat this exercise 10 times. Do 3 sets, 3 to 5 times a week. While you’re doing the stretch, remember not to push your chin back too hard.

Head rotation:

For the head rotation, wrap the band around the back of your head so the band crosses in the front of your head. Holding the resistance with your hands, turn your head to one side like you’re looking over your shoulder. Remember to keep your head in a neutral position. Don’t lean it forward or back. 

Shoulder shrugs:

Place a weight in each hand with your arms straight at your sides and shrug your shoulders. This one is pretty simple. Trying shrugging 10 times for three reps. A lot of neck pain comes from your shoulders. This exercise helps you strengthen your shoulder and neck muscles so that you can hold your head up with better posture. Don’t shrug your shoulders while holding too much weight. Start off with a small amount and work your way up to more weight. 

Head and ball:

Hold a bouncy ball or a foam ball to the wall using your head. Push the back of your head against the ball 10 times, 3 reps. When you’re finished, place your forehead on the ball and repeat. 


Use the Hot & Cold Wrap to cool your muscles back down after your workout. Cooling your neck down will keep your muscles from getting inflamed if you’re injured. When you’re done, you can neck-out (check-out)!


Sources:

  1. https://uihc.org/health-topics/exercise-chronic-neck-pain
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prjxXR87Kaw