Neck Strain Rehabilitation Exercises

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Do these exercises only if you do not have pain or numbness running down your arm or into your hand. The first 6 exercises are meant to help your neck remain flexible. Do not do any exercises that make your neck pain worse.

  • Active neck rotation:
  • Sit in a chair, keeping your neck, shoulders, and trunk straight. First, turn your head slowly to the right. Move it gently to the point of pain. Move it back to the forward position. Relax. Then move it to the left. Repeat 10 times.

  • Active neck side bend:
  • Sit in a chair, keeping your neck, shoulders, and trunk straight. Tilt your head so that your right ear moves toward your right shoulder. Move it to the point of pain. Then tilt your head so your left ear moves toward your left shoulder. Make sure you do not rotate your head while tilting or raise your shoulder toward your head. Repeat this exercise 10 times in each direction.

  • Neck flexion:
  • Sit in a chair, keeping your neck, shoulders, and trunk straight. Bend your head forward, reaching your chin toward your chest. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times.

  • Neck extension:
  • Sit in a chair, keeping your neck, shoulders, and trunk straight. Bring your head back so that your chin is pointing toward the ceiling. Repeat 10 times.

  • Chin tuck:
  • Place your fingertips on your chin and gently push your head straight back as if you are trying to make a double chin. Keep looking forward as your head moves back. Hold 5 seconds and repeat 5 times.

  • Neck rotation with flexion:
  • Right Turn your head to the right and clasp your hands behind your head. Let the weight of your arms pull your chin to the right side of your chest. Relax. Hold for a count of 15. Do this 3 times.

    Left Turn your head to the left and clasp your hands behind your head. Let the weight of your arms pull your chin to the left side of your chest. Relax. Hold for a count of 15. Do this 3 times.

  • Neck rotation stretch:
  • Right Rotate your neck by looking over your right shoulder. Lift your right hand and place your palm on the left side of your chin. Push your chin with your palm toward your right shoulder. Hold for a count of 10. Do this 3 times.

    Left Rotate your neck by looking over your left shoulder. Lift your left hand and place your palm on the right side of your chin. Push your chin with your palm toward your left shoulder. Hold for a count of 10. Do this 3 times.

  • Scalene stretch:
  • This stretches the neck muscles that attach to your ribs. Sitting in an upright position, clasp both hands behind your back, lower your left shoulder, and tilt your head toward the right. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds and then come back to the starting position. Lower your right shoulder and tilt your head toward the left until you feel a stretch. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times on each side.

  • Isometric neck flexion:
  • Sit tall, eyes straight ahead, and chin level. Place your palm against your forehead and gently push your forehead into your palm. Hold for 5 seconds and release. Do 3 sets of 5.

  • Isometric neck extension:
  • Sit tall, eyes straight ahead, and chin level. Clasp your hands together and place them behind your head. Press the back of your head into your palms. Hold 5 seconds and release. Do 3 sets of 5.

  • Isometric neck side bend:
  • Sit tall, eyes straight ahead, and chin level. Place the palm of your hand at the side of your temple and press your temple into the palm of your hand. Hold 5 seconds and release. Do 3 sets of 5 on each side.

  • Head lift (Neck curl):
  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Tuck your chin and lift your head toward your chest, keeping your shoulders on the floor. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times.

  • Head lift (Neck side bend):
  • Sit tall, eyes straight ahead, and chin level. Place the palm of your hand at the side of your temple and press your temple into the palm of your hand. Hold 5 seconds and release. Do 3 sets of 5 on each side.

  • Neck extension on hands and knees:
  • Get on your hands and knees and look down at the floor.

    Arch your back, relax the muscles in your neck and gently let your head drop.

    Reverse the pose, flatten your back and raise your head to look up at the ceiling.

    Hold this position for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times.

  • Scapular squeeze :
  • While sitting or standing with your arms by your sides, squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for 5 seconds. Do 3 sets of 10.

  • Thoracic extension:
  • While sitting in a chair, clasp both arms behind your head. Gently arch backward and look up toward the ceiling. Repeat 10 times. Do this several times per day.