Video Blog: 7 Simple Exercises for Treating Neck Pain at Home
Neck pain is very common. In fact, according to the NIH, over 100 million Americans say that they have chronic pain and a lot of them have neck pain. Neck pain is especially prevalent in people who drive a lot, females and those with poor posture. Warner Orthopedics and Wellness has developed a program of neck exercises with the assistance of an F-15 fighter pilot and Steve Levins, PT, OCS, FAAOMPT. F-15 pilots’ necks are subjected to extreme G-forces during flight. Many F-15 pilots develop neck pain from this. However, most of these soldiers can continue flying high performance jets by simply strengthening and stretching their necks on a regular basis. These exercises will work well for the daily normal forces that we feel in our necks. These 4 exercises are basic and easy to do without any equipment.
The neck muscles that we target are the deeper posture muscles and the deep neck flexors (forward bending) muscles. These muscles are usually deconditioned and the source of pain in the neck. The home routine begins with a warm-up. The warm- is done in sets of 15 repetitions of 3 movements:
Laying down on your back, slide the back of the head on the floor or bed, tucking the chin slightly and nodding the head. That is, gently forward flex the head and then go back to neutral position or slightly looking up.
Laying down, gently rotate the head side to side for a short distance. Only move the head about one or two inches from the midline.
Next look down and do the same. Repeat this 10 times to each side.
Finally, stand up and place the right hand against the head and gently rotate the head into the right hand; the right hand should provide gentle resistance
Then do the same with the left hand and moving the head into the left hand
This exercise should be repeated 5 times to each side; the goals is to have the flexors and the extensors of the neck contract at the same time during this final warm-up.
The strengthening work is then done, once the warm-up is completed.
Exercise #1 – Shrugs
Holding a low weight dumbbell in each hand (5 to 7.5#), you will elevate the shoulders in a slow and controlled motion toward your ears and then slowly allow the shoulders to move to the starting position.
- 3 sets of 10 should be completed each day
Exercise #2 – Reverse Flys
Holding a low weight dumbbell in each hand again, in the sitting position, you should lean the upper body forward about 45 degrees and point the dumbbell and hands to the ground. Then slowly raise the arms up until they are parallel to the floor; slowly lower the arms to the starting position.
- 3 sets of 10 should be completed each day
Exercise #3 – Endurance extensors
Holding a broomstick in front of you with the shoulders at 90 degrees to the body and the elbows slightly flexed, move the broomstick up and down rapidly about 2 inches each way. This mimics the same movement that is done in gyms with a ‘body-blade’. This should be done for about 10 seconds at a time.
- This movement should be done for 10 repetitions each day
Exercise #4 – Chin tucks
While laying on your back gently tuck in the chin. Once the chin is tucked lift the head slightly off of the floor/table. Only lift about one inch or less. Hold the head in this position for about 10 seconds. Let the head back down, rest and repeat 10 times.
It is our recommendation to start with the warm-up, then proceed to the 3 exercises. You should alternate each exercise to provide a break between each of the 3 sets; in other words, the daily routine would look like this:
- 3 sets of: 10 shrugs, 10 reverse flys, 10 endurance extensors, 10 chin tucks
Strengthening has been shown in many studies to lessen neck pain and is a good, cheap alternative for one to treat his or her own neck pain, without an expensive visit to the doctor.
About the Authors
Dr. Meredith Warner is a board certified, Fellowship Trained Foot and Ankle, Orthopedic surgeon practicing in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Dr. Warner is committed to offering her patients an accurate diagnosis along with a comprehensive treatment plan in order to get them back to a pain free life. Dr. Meredith Warner specializes in the treatment of orthopedic issues, providing operative and non-operative treatment plans of orthopedic problems, including musculoskeletal pain such as chronic back, neck and foot pain, reconstructive surgery of the foot and ankle, arthritis, diabetic, hammer toe, bunion, wound care, work injuries, fitness and nutrition and osteoporosis issues.