Exercising your neck helps prevent future poor posture and strengthens the muscles that tend to get neglected on an everyday basis. By supplementing the exercises with stretching and massage, you can prevent or relieve neck tension in the long term. The following neck exercises will help you bring your neck muscles back into shape:
Exercise 1: Improving flexibility
Move the head slowly and with control
- Side bend: bend the head to the side, keeping your gaze ahead
- Rotation: alternately rotate the head to the left and right, allowing your gaze to follow
- Nodding: alternately pull the chin down towards the chest and look up again
Although this doesn’t strengthen the muscles, it mobilises them and improves the blood supply. This exercise can easily be built into your daily working life. Remember: the more you exercise, the better.
Exercise 2: Training the neck flexors
Studies show that people with neck pain have weaker activity levels of the deep neck flexors. This is probably because they are not used enough – something you can change with the following exercise.
Starting position: standing against a wall (or lying on your back), shoulders lowered, jaw relaxed, the back of your head lightly touching the wall. For support, place a small padded roll between your cervical spine and the wall.
- Press the back of the head slightly against the wall and make a small nodding movement. Slide against the wall as if a thread is pulling the head upwards
- 10x, holding for a few seconds, intensity: flex only slightly
- You can build this exercise into your daily life: in the car, for example, when the head support is correctly adjusted to head height
Exercise 3: Lowered shoulders for proud posture
Actively pull your shoulder blades downwards and at the same time pull your head towards the ceiling. You can make the exercise more difficult by pushing your hands down against a resistance.
Exercise 4: Improving proprioception
People with neck tension often have limited space orientation and head-eye coordination skills, at least according to the findings of some studies. In addition, many of us can only move to a limited extent or our movements are jerky.
In order to train the smallest muscles in the cervical spine, proprioceptive exercises can help. These exercises enable the body to identify and control its position and movements within a space. How does this work? Attach a laser pointer to your forehead and use it to follow different patterns that you have previously drawn on paper.
Exercise 5: Stabilising the cervical spine
If you stand on an unstable surface, such as a rolled up gym mat, and at the same time alternately raise each arm forward, this will reactively stabilise not only your balance but your cervical spine too. It will also help protect it from any external impacts. Important: pull your head towards the ceiling during this exercise too. You can make the exercise more difficult by holding weights in your hands.
Exercise 6: Straightening the upper body
A strong cervical spine requires an upright posture along the whole length of the spine. If the thoracic spine leans too far forward, for example, the cervical spine will also become tense, which is why your back extensors and rhomboids need to be activated:
Make sure that the cervical spine is extended and that your head isn’t tilted back. Pull your shoulder blades together towards your back.