Hearing a snap, crackle and pop from a bowl of crispy rice cereal can be an excellent way to start your morning. But hearing those same sounds from your neck can indicate degeneration or hypermobility in the neck joints. Although popping sounds in your neck do not always indicate a serious medical concern, you should consult your physician before attempting neck exercises to soothe the sounds.
Tilting exercises allow the head to move along two planes of movement. To begin, look forward with your neck and head in a neutral position. Slowly tilt your head back until you are looking up at the ceiling. Hold this position for two to three seconds and then tilt the head forward until your chin is tucked near your chest and your eyes face the ground. Again, hold this for two to three seconds before returning to neutral position. Repeat the sequence five to 10 times. Once you return to neutral position, tilt your head gently to the left. Although you should bring your ear toward your shoulder, do not tilt so far that they actually touch. Hold for two to three seconds before tilting to the right side. Complete five to 10 repetitions.
Rotation neck exercises utilize two different movements. For the first exercise, keep your head straight and eyes pointing forward. Slowly rotate your head to the left until your chin hovers over the left shoulder. Pause for a second and then return to neutral position. Slowly rotate your head to the right, pausing for a second as your chin hovers over your right shoulder. Repeat the sequence five times. Complete the second rotation exercise by dropping your head to the right shoulder and slowly rolling your head completely around your neck in clockwise and counter-clockwise motions.
Resistance exercises can help to strengthen the delicate muscles in your neck. Throughout each exercise, keep your neck in a neutral position with your head straight and eyes forward. Begin by pressing your palms against your forehead. Use your neck muscles to slowly press your head against your hands, while resisting the movement with your hands. Hold the exercise for five seconds. Press your hands gently against the back of your head. Slowly push backward against this resistance. Press your left hand against the left side of your head and slowly push against the resistance. Repeat on the right side with your right hand pressed against the right side of your head.
As with any exercise, you should only perform these neck stretches to the best of your abilities. If you can only manage small neck movements, avoid pushing yourself too far and causing injury. Additionally, you should never perform neck exercises that cause excessive discomfort or pain. Consult your physician for neck pain that lasts longer than a few days or causes consistent popping every time you move.
- The Library of Congress Everyday Mysteries: What Causes the Noise When You Crack A Joint
- SpineCare: Why Popping Your Neck is Harmful
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Cervical Spondylosis (Arthritis of the Neck)
- MayoClinic.com: Video: Neck Stretches For the Office
- Cervical Spondylosis: Exercises & Yoga for Neck Pain and Spondylosis
- University of Maryland Division of Administrative Affairs: Neck Exercises