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Diana Remaley, LMT
19 Compo Road South
Westport, CT

Neck Stretching Routine

I realize I'm fortunate; I don't have a desk job. I have an engaging, physical job that allows me to move very freely throughout the day, and connect with wonderful clients. It's rewarding both for my clients and for me.

But a few times a year, I attend seminars. These are usually from 9-5, in a large stuffy room. In fact, as I sit typing this, I'm sitting in a huge room at the local courthouse for jury duty. It's during times like these that I think I empathize most with my clients who sit all day long. In future posts, I'll explore a full body stretching routine, but for now, I'll focus just on the neck.

Anatomy Lesson:

The neck is comprised of seven cervical vertibrae (C-1 through C-7, beginning at the top of the neck). These vertibrae are connected to each other by ligaments, which provide stability and restrict movement. Tendons connect the vertibrae to muscles, which allow movement and can provide strength. Generally, there is little need to strengthen the muscles of the neck; their primary job is only to hold up and turn our heads.

The neck is therefore unique in needing to provide both stability and freedom of movement. In order to stretch it properly, we want to respect the ligaments which provide that stability by not pushing them past their threshholds, but also challenge the tendons through movement, which will keep them relaxed and functional.

Basically, don't try to force yourself to move beyond the point of comfort.

The Stretches

To stretch the trapezius ("traps"):

If you're seated, grab the seat of your chair with your hand firmly. Keep your elbow locked and unbent. Let your head fall to the opposite shoulder; let your entire body move a little toward that side. This should produce a lovely stretch in the side of the neck and shoulder. Hold (for as long as possible!) and repeat on the other side.

To stretch the side of the neck (sternocleidomastoid and scalene muscles):

Turn your head to about 45 degrees, with your shoulders down and chin straight out.

Let the crown of your head fall toward your back, letting your chin point up. Hold your head with your hand, and gently pull even further back and toward one side. Change the direction of your chin to engage the smaller muscles. Hold only for a few seconds in each position and repeat on the other side.

Finally, while still holding your head gently with your hands, return your chin to center, and very gently pull your head toward your chest. Then let your eyes roll up to the sky, and let your head fall back as far as possible. Hold these positions only for a few seconds each.

These stretches should provide a lovely feeling of freedom of movement in the neck. You might even feel a few inches taller! The next time you're in a long class, on a long car ride, or even at work, take a few minutes to try this lovely routine. It'll be the most restful part of your day!

If you still notice some restriction of movement at a certain point in your neck, or if you have any pain, feel free to make an appointment with me to work on it more thoroughly. I'll see you in my Westport office!

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Diana Remaley, LMT
19 Compo Road South
Westport, CT