Active Isolated Stretching is the best method of stretching I know, especially if you have Trigger Points or hyperactive, tense muscles. Here’s a basic routine for the muscles in the back of your neck.
Forward flexion: Sitting up straight, bring your chin in toward your throat and try to tuck it in the notch between your collar bones. Clasp your hands behind your head and gently pull so that you feel a stretch at the base of your skull. Exhale and hold for two seconds. Release the pressure and bring your head upright. Repeat 10 times.
Lateral flexion: Pick a point to look at in front of you to prevent your head from turning. Bring your right ear down to your right shoulder. Continue to actively stretch as you pull your ear closer using your right hand on the left side of your head. Exhale and stretch for two seconds. Release and repeat 10 times. Do the same thing bringing your left ear to your left shoulder.
Rotation: Turn your head right to look over your shoulder. Place your hands on either side of your head with your right hand on your left cheek and your left hand on the right side of your head above your ear from a raised arm position. Keep turning your head as you assist with your hands. Exhale and hold for two seconds. Release the pressure and turn your head back facing front. Repeat 10 times. Repeat in the other direction.
Oblique forward flexion: Turn your head to the right and bring your left ear toward your chest keeping your head turned toward your right shoulder. Pull your head gently with your left hand as you keep turning and stretching actively. Exhale and hold for two seconds. Release the pressure and return to upright. Repeat 10 times. Change sides and repeat to the left.
“Deodorant stretch”: To stretch the right side, turn your head to the left and bring your nose to your armpit as if you were checking your deodorant. With your left hand, pull your nose closer. Exhale and hold for two seconds. Release and repeat 10 times. Do the same thing to the right.
Note: the shoulder must stay down to make this stretch effective. To do so, hold onto the bottom of a chair, or put your arm behind your back, or simply depress your shoulder as you stretch.
One Reply to “Neck pain: 5 stretches for the back of your neck”
Hello and thanks for your input. The stretch you are using is good, but I would make one important change. This is new information about stretching that is generally not known among trainers and PTs who are working under standard care guidelines. Stretching is more effective when you stretch actively, hold the stretch for only two seconds, release and repeat 10 times. It puts the physiological principle of reciprocal inhibition into play, prevents the stretch reflex from being activated by the muscle spindles within the contractile tissue which will contract the very muscle you are trying to stretch. If there are Trigger Points active in the muscles, stretches held for two long can aggravate them and cause an increase in symptoms. Check out Aaron Mattes books on Active Isolated Stretching or go to my web site for more information. I know many athletes who are blow away by their gains in power, strength, endurance and agility by using Active Isolated Stretching methods.
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