It’s time to show some neck love. I mean, it does so much for us, shouldn’t we stretch it out with some neck exercises? There are many virtues of possessing strong neck musculature. Maintain a strong neck, so that it provides strong support to your head. The brain controls your body by sending signals. The neck, in fact, is a communicator between the brain to the rest of the body, so, if your neck gets affected, your brain gets affected too.
It is very important that you strengthen your neck and prevent pain and injury in the area. Thanks to spending long hours before a computer, neck pain is a common phenomenon today, affecting millions. But the question that most don’t have an answer to is how to strengthen neck muscles. The answer can be as simple as incorporating a few neck exercises. This combats neck pain and offers strength and flexibility to your neck. The best part of these exercises is that you can do them within the comforting walls of your own home.
Most people think that they need to be a wrestler, football player, MMA athlete, or soccer player to bring focus around your neck. A strong neck has its perks. Take a look at some of the advantages here. Yes, you have ignored it for so long, not bothering to give it your time and care. Why do you care as you can’t flex it the way you want? Here’s more information on your neck and why it is so important.
There are nerve impulses running from the brain through your spinal cord and they are generally affected by weak and damaged neck muscles. This reduces both static and dynamic balance and impacts basic locomotive actions. A stronger neck equals stronger balance and locomotion.
If you train your head properly, you will have a stronger jaw which will minimize injury risk.
A strong neck ensures you have a stronger respiratory system and you will also improve your breathing. You use most of your neck muscles such as anterior, medial, and posterior scalene muscles, also the platysma and sternocleidomastoid muscles. These help contract and assist in respiration, especially when you take part in a strenuous exercise. When you know all about the importance of a strong neck, I bet you will start taking care of it, so it remains healthy for many years.
Why do you have Neck Stress?
Most of us have to grin and bear neck pain. But is there any reason, why we may suffer from neck pain? Find out some of the reasons that lead to neck pain.
- Faulty body posture
- Improper sleeping postures
- Poor physical ergonomics
- Sudden jerky movements
We get a ‘stiff neck’, and more often than not, our own habits lead to our undoing, ending up with pains and niggles in all the wrong areas. If you slouch most of the time, work at the computer for insanely long hours, or indulge in hard physical labor, (this pretty much involves most of us) we must make it a point to include the best neck strengthening exercises. What can we say, but you owe it to your neck!
Best Simple But Effective Neck Strengthening Exercises
You require just a few hours of the day to do your neck strengthening exercises. If you are someone who spends hours at the computer, these effective neck muscle strengthening exercises are all you need, and this can add variety and strength to your training program. It strengthens your neck muscles, so it communicates better to your brain, and the entire body enjoys the benefits.
Start with Releases
Before you begin your neck strengthening exercises, ease away your stiffness with some easy-peasy neck movements. This minimizes the stiffness in the neck structures and helps make your neck ready for the neck muscle strengthening exercises. You may find some tender spots in the neck area, focus on them as they are the tight muscles and they are crying for your attention.
I started with the chin tuck when I started experiencing neck pain, it is one way of improving your posture and also fights neck pain. Even beginners can have a go at it. It strengthens both the front and back portion of your neck at the same time.
Stand with an upright posture, both your back and neck straight, and leave your arms at your sides. Look straight. Now, slowly lower your chin, feel the stretch at the back of your nape. Remain in this position for 3 to 5 seconds and then raise your chin again to the starting position. Include at least 10 of these to your everyday routine, whenever you feel a pain in your neck. This offers pain relief and also strengthens the muscles, plus aligns your head over the shoulders. You can try it even when you are lying down.
The back burn neck strengthening exercise is really effective. Lean back against a flat wall, ensure your feet are at least 4 inches away from the wall, they should not touch the wall. The back of your head should touch the wall. Now, slowly place the parts of your hands on the wall, such as the elbows, forearms, along with your hands and fingers; keep your wrists around your shoulder level. While the back of your hands touch the wall, bring them up above your head and your back down. Ensure there are about 10 repetitions. Repeat this exercise at least 3 to 5 times a day.
The rotational resistance exercise is one of the few good neck exercises, this works most muscles in your neck simultaneously. Place one hand at one side of your head. Hold this position and try to rotate your head to one side towards your shoulder. To offer lateral resistance, continue to press your head with your hand so that you bring your shoulder in line with your chin. When you reach this position, hold the position for 5 seconds. Get back to the original position and repeat the move on the opposite side.
This is a gravity-defying move advanced move. This works your shoulders, neck and your upper back. Gravity offers resistance while you perform this exercise. Just as you would start doing the cobra exercise, lie on the floor, and face down. You can offer support to your forehead in the form of a hand towel. Place your arms on the sides and palms flat on the floor. Now, touch the roof of your mouth with your tongue. This stabilizes your neck muscle. Squeeze your shoulder blades and lift your hands off the floor. Bring your elbows in bringing your palms out and thumbs up. Now, slowly lift your forehead about an inch off the towel while your eyes should look straight at the floor. Stabilize your head so you don’t tilt back and forth too much. Stay in this stance for 10 seconds and get back to the starting position. Do, at least 10 repetitions of it.
Shoulder Blade Squeeze
No, it isn’t meant for your shoulders only, although the name suggests it. Actually, it strengthens your shoulders, back and neck as well. It activates the muscles that link your shoulders with your neck, and especially strengthens the nape.
You can do this exercise while you sit or stand. Keep your neck and back straight. Now tuck your chin and then squeeze your shoulder blades slightly, so you feel the effect, but not the pain. Stay in this position for at least 5 seconds and keep doing at least 10 repetitions.
Neck Plate Curls
This exercise is done with the help of weights. While choosing the weight, make sure that you can hold it comfortably against the back of your neck. Start off by lying down frontwards on a bench. Your head should be hanging over the edge with your shoulders aligned at the end of the bench. Tightly hold a lightweight at the back of your head with both your hands. Now slowly tilt your head upward and lower it back down. Repeat the move.
Neck Forward Flexion
Neck forward flexion helps strengthen the muscles that help bring your neck forward and look downward. Now, start the exercise by holding your head in a neutral position while you place your hands on your forehead. Then, slowly try and flex your head forward, but offer resistance with your hands. Once your chin touches your chest, get back to the neutral position and repeat the exercise as many times as possible.
Neck Lateral Flexion
Your neck has a function that enables movement from side-to-side, so your ears move toward your shoulders. Neck lateral flexion also helps facilitate this motion. Place the hand on the area of your neck lateral flexion. Then, place your left hand on your head right above your left ear and gradually flex your neck left with your hands, offering light resistance. You can repeat the exercise as many times as possible, then try the same on the other side.
Another simple but very effective exercise for neck strengthening is neck rotation. Here you turn your head from one side to another. First contract your muscles as you rotate your head, then place your right hand to your right cheek and temple. Then rotate your head to your right so your chin moves right over your shoulder. Don’t use your hand to assist your neck, so your neck muscles work hard and contract more. Move your head as much as you want and then repeat the same on the other side by rotating your head to the left, with your left hand offering resistance.
As you can gauge from the name, this exercise encourages the use of a small towel, facilitating some of the best neck strengthening exercises. Fold the towel horizontally to make it cushy and thick. You can either do this exercise while standing or as chair or a bench. Start off with your feet hip distance apart, wrap the towel behind your face at the base of your hairline. Now hold the towel in each hand towel and try and bring your chin down towards your chest. The towel offers resistance to your neck. Now tilt your head up. Continue the process of raising or lowering your head.
This is not a beginner’s exercise and only people who are highly adept in yoga can go for this workout. This exercise not only works your neck but also improves your general health. Stand beside a door and put a soft pillow or something against the door. Next, you can kneel down so you put your head on the pillow. As you maintain your position you can swing your legs to bring them up against the door. Basically, what you have to do is rest it out upside down and then begin with your position. This exercise sounds difficult to master at first, but yes with regular practice, you can master any powerful pose. Yoga practitioners swear by this move.
This is one of my most favorite neck muscle pain relief moves. It gives such a good stretch to my overworked neck muscles. Stand straight and tilt your head to one side (left) slowly as if you are trying to enable your ear to touch the shoulder. Hold this position for a brief second and return back to the normal position. You can try the exact same thing on the other side as well. Keep repeating the move throughout the day.
Head Lift (Flat)
Lay down with your back flat against the floor and relax your shoulders. Fold your legs and keep them flat on the floor. Now, gently raise your head to touch your chest with your chin. Don’t jerk your head back to the normal position; instead, ease your way back to the earlier position. You’ve got to repeat this a number of times to feel any effect on your neck. This helps your neck feel light and stress-free.
This is an effective warm-up exercise, and most fitness trainers will insist you do this before you get back to your exercise routine. Stand straight, relax your shoulders, but do not slump. Gradually, relax your shoulders and rotate your shoulder in a leisurely fashion, go clockwise first and then reverse it for a few anti-clockwise moves. First, complete 10 clockwise moves and then finally 10 anticlockwise circles. Take a few breaks in between as and when necessary to recuperate and begin again.
Your neck supports your head and it is by no means light (10-12 pounds), so reduce stress load and maintain proper posture. Besides the above-mentioned 14 neck strengthening exercises, practice Pilates as it is a great posture-building workout.
Remember, if any of these exercises cause you pain and distress, stop it immediately and consult your doctor. Keep it slow and steady so it aids healing and not gives you more pain. Let us know whether the neck strengthening exercises worked for you, drop a comment if they have, we will appreciate it!