5 Neck pain exercises for relief | Step by step treatment

Neck pain is a common physical problem, often caused by stress or a stiff neck. Also, poor posture, especially behind a computer, is a common cause of neck pain.

Fortunately, with our step by step treatment plan containing five neck pain exercises, you can find relief fast yourself.

I’ll explain the factors that contribute to your neck pain and how you can relieve them yourself.

It includes relieving stress and adjusting your posture behind your computer.

I explain every exercise by text, but also with a video so that you’ll know exactly how to perform it correctly.

Keep reading.

neck pain exercises physical therapy

Neck pain treatment plan

  • Improve the mobility of your neck and upper back
  • Reduce stress
  • Reduce tension on your neck muscle
  • Improve the strength of your neck muscle
  • Improve your posture

You might also like: Tinnitus treatment | Ringing in the ears relief with 4 exercises

Neck pain causes

Various factors contribute to the development of neck pain. To relieve your neck pain, you’ll have to tackle all these factors.

These factors can be:

  • Stress
  • A tight neck
  • A tight upper back
  • Poor sitting posture
  • Lack of muscle strength

Stress is the leading cause of neck pain. Stress increases the tension in your neck and shoulder muscles. Due to this tension, the joints in your neck become stiff. That results in a stiff neck. The tense muscles often cause pain in your neck.

A tight upper back also leads to neck pain. When you move your neck, your upper back also rotates with it. When this can’t happen, there will be more forces working on your neck, causing an overuse injury.

Another way in which a tight upper back causes neck pain is because you can’t maintain a straight-up sitting position with a tight upper back. A tight upper back results in a rounded back and forward head position. Through this position, your neck muscles have to work hard to keep your head up. Otherwise, it would be pulled down by gravity. It creates tension in your neck muscles.

The third possible cause for neck pain is a lack of strength in your neck and shoulder muscles. It’s an even bigger problem in combination with poor posture.

I’ll teach you how you can treat all these neck pain causes yourself with five exercises in our step by step treatment plan.

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neck pain

Neck pain exercises

The most important thing you have to do is reduce the stress in your life or your body. The best way to do this is by starting to exercise. Regular exercise reduces the cortisol levels in your body. When you experience stress, your body produces this hormone to help you cope with the stress.

Another way to reduce stress is by taking a stress-reducing supplement.

Alongside reducing stress, you can apply this hot crème to reduce the tension in your neck muscles. It causes instant pain relief.

Together with reducing stress and the tension in your muscles, you should start with the exercises to improve your posture, mobility of your neck and strength of your neck muscles.

I’ll show you our step by step treatment plan right now.

Neck pain relief with these 4 physical therapy stretches

Neck pain exercise 1: Improve the mobility of your neck

The first exercise you have to perform helps to improve the mobility of your neck. When you move your neck around, your neck vertebrae glide into each other.

But sometimes this mechanism doesn’t work as it should. Making a sudden movement, sitting, or sleeping in a poor position can cause this to happen. That is how you get a stiff neck.

Because the joints don’t move as easy as they should, your neck muscles have to pull harder to move your neck. That’s where the pain comes from. The exercise below treats this primary aspect of neck pain.

Perform the exercise like this:

  • Wrap a towel around your neck
  • Take with your left hand the right side of the towel and with your right hand the left side
  • Now lift the hand that is in front up until the towel is at the same height as your cheek
  • Now pull with your arm and the towel your head in the full rotation to the side
  • Repeat this ten times and then change to the opposite side by changing your hands
  • Finally, grasp the towel normal and lift your arms and look up at the same time

You can also see how to perform the exercise in this video.

Perform the exercise at least twice a day. Rotate your head as far as you can. It’s okay when it hurts. That’s because you stretch the limit of your neck at this point. That way, you’ll improve mobility.

neck pain exercise 1 improve the mobility of your neck

Neck pain exercise 2: Improve the mobility of your upper back

The second thing you have to do is to improve the mobility of your upper back. Decent back mobility is essential to improve your posture as well as the functionality of your neck.

To perform this exercise, you’ll have to buy this back stretcher.

By laying over this back stretcher, you’ll feel that your upper back stretches and loosens up. You can also use it to stretch your lower back.

back stretcher

Lay on it for at least 20 minutes per day. Longer is also possible.

By improving your upper back mobility, it will be more comfortable to sit up straight. It reduces your rounded back and forward head position.

To be able to sit up straight and hold that position for an extended period, you’ll need to train the deep flexor muscles in your neck.

That’s what this next exercise does.

Neck pain exercise 3: Train your deep flexor muscles

The purpose of the third exercise is to increase the endurance of your deep neck flexor muscles. These muscles are essential for maintaining a straight sitting posture by pulling your chin in.

Due to your forward head position, these muscles are often weak in people with neck pain.

You can perform the exercise like this:

  • Lay down on your back
  • Pull your chin in as far as you can and hold this position
  • Now lift your head about 2 cm (1 inch) with your chin pulled in
  • Hold this as long as you can
  • Repeat this five times

You can also see how to perform the exercise in the picture.

When performing this exercise, you’ll notice that you can’t keep your chin pulled in. That’s when you failed the exercise and have to rest for the second repetition.

You should be able to hold the position about 15-20 seconds after training for a few weeks. In the beginning, some people can’t hold the position longer than 5 seconds. That’s no problem, just work your way up.

neck pain exercise 3 train your deep flexor muscles

Neck pain exercise 4: Improve your sitting posture

When the endurance and strength of your deep flexor muscles improve, sitting up straight for a long time will be much easier.

When you sit up straight, your head is in the same line as the rest of your body. That prevents gravity from pulling your head down. It reduces the tension on your neck muscles which reduces neck pain.

Having a proper desk setup is essential for a good sitting posture because you often sit at your desk most of the day when working. So make sure you work in a healthy environment.

Secondly, you have to sit up straight with your chin pulled in a little bit. It prevents forward head posture, which is a risk factor for neck pain.

You can see the difference in sitting position in the picture.

At first, this posture feels weird and uncomfortable but when you train it consistently, your body adjusts and it feels naturally eventually.

Try to train and control your posture as often as possible during the day.

neck pain exercise 4 improve your sitting posture

Neck pain exercise 5: Stretch your neck muscles

The final neck pain exercises reduce the tension in your neck muscles. These are the muscles that run over your shoulder towards the back of your head. They are also the primary cause of tension headaches.

Sitting up straight and training these muscles reduces the overload already, but stretching them reduces the pain caused by these muscles even more.

You can perform the exercise like this:

  • Place your hand on your head
  • Pull your head sideways
  • Also, rotate your head to the same side until you feel the maximum stretch
  • Hold this position for 20 seconds
  • Repeat three times on both sides

You can see how to perform the exercise in this video.

Repeat this exercise several times a day. You can’t do it too often.

neck pain exercise 5 stretch your neck muscles


As you can see, you have many options to reduces your neck pain. You have to take action on every point for maximum results. If you have any questions left after reading this article, feel free to send me an e-mail.

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