If you sit at a desk for long periods of time, or if all of the tension in your body seems to collect in your neck, you know what it's like to have stiff, tight neck muscles. Stretching neck muscles can make them feel better, but it's important to stretch correctly.
Many people do the 360-degree neck roll, but experts say bending the neck back as if to look at the ceiling can be dangerous for some people, including those with osteoporosis, arthritis, or a history of neck injuries.
Here are two ways to stretch your neck muscles safely. Start each by sitting in a straight-back chair, face forward, hands in your lap, feet flat on the floor. Repeat each stretch several times a day:
- Slowly tilt head to the right, bringing ear toward shoulder as far as it will go without pain. (Don't pull your shoulder up to meet the ear.) Hold 3-6 seconds. You should feel the stretch on the left side of your neck. Return to the starting position. Repeat on the left side. Relax and then repeat 2-3 times.
- Slowly bend head forward, bringing chin toward chest as far as possible without pain. Slowly roll chin to the right, bringing cheek to shoulder as far as possible without pain. (Don't pull shoulder up to meet the cheek.) Hold 3-6 seconds. You should feel the stretch on the left side of your neck. Roll chin back to starting position and stop. Repeat on the left side. Relax and then repeat
Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.
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