How to Relax Tense Neck Muscles

Tense neck muscles can cause pain in your neck and up into the back of your head. Many of your neck muscles insert into your upper back and shoulders, so you may experience pain in those areas, as well. Tense neck muscles also cause stiffness, which affects your neck's range of motion and mobility. Use multiple techniques to relieve and relax your tense neck muscles. Check with your doctor first, though, and always consult your doctor if you're experiencing severe or prolonged pain.

Heat

Step 1

Spread a heating pad across a round bolster. Set the heating pad to medium.

Step 2

Cover the pad with a towel or spare pillow case; this covering will prevent the heating pad from burning your skin. (Also, read all safety warnings on the heating pad.)

Step 3

Lie on your back with the bolster under your neck. Relax your head and let your chin tilt up naturally.

Step 4

Use the heating pad for at least 20 minutes (or less, if indicated on the safety warnings or by your doctor) to let the heat relax your neck muscles.

Neck Rotations

Step 1

Sit in a comfortable position in a chair that supports your back.

Step 2

Tilt your head forward and back as you massage your neck with your fingertips. Don't tilt your head all the way back; rather, tilt your chin toward the ceiling.

Step 3

Tilt your head from side to side. Keep your shoulders stable and massage the sides of your neck with your fingertips throughout this movement.

Step 4

Turn your head in all directions as you massage your neck with your palms and fingertips.

Shoulder Shrugs

Step 1

Sit in a comfortable position in a chair that supports your back.

Step 2

Lift your shoulders toward your ears. Hold for five seconds and let your shoulders drop. Repeat five times.

Step 3

Pull your shoulders forward, lift them toward your ears and draw them back and down. Repeat five times.

Step 4

Draw your shoulders back, lift them toward your ears and pull them forward and down. Repeat five times.

Things You'll Need

  • Heating pad

  • Round bolster

  • Towel or pillow case

  • Chair

Tip

Use slow, smooth motions as you do your neck rotations.

Warning

Don't fall asleep with the heating pad on.

Consult your physician if you experience numbness or weakness in your shoulders or arms.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
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