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Chiropractic Neck Exercises

by Martin Hughes

About Martin Hughes

Martin Hughes is a chiropractic physician, health writer and the co-owner of a website devoted to natural footgear. He writes about health, fitness, diet and lifestyle. Hughes earned his Bachelor of Science in kinesiology at the University of Waterloo and his doctoral degree from Western States Chiropractic College in Portland, Ore.

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Overview

Part of a routine initial chiropractic office visit for neck pain, tension headaches or poor posture involves your chiropractor teaching you simple neck exercises to reduce your discomfort. As part of your treatment plan, your chiropractor will instruct you to perform exercises on a regular basis to achieve optimal results. You don't need to wait until you're in pain to perform these exercises, though. Perform neck exercises as a preventive measure to stretch, strengthen and stabilize your neck muscles.

Side Bending Stretch

Perform the side-bending stretch to relax tight neck muscles that may be causing neck and shoulder discomfort, tension headaches or poor posture. Gently tilt your head and neck to the right, so that your right ear slowly moves toward your right shoulder. Keep your chin centered with your neck's midline so that your head does not rotate to your right or your left. When you have reached your lateral flexion end range of motion, you should feel a gentle stretch on the left side of your neck. Reach over your head with your right hand and place gentle pressure on your left temple with your fingertips to augment your stretch. Hold your stretch for 20 seconds before returning your head and neck to neutral. Reverse the directions and your stretch your opposite side. Perform five repetitions of this stretch on both sides of your neck, three to five times per week. You can perform this stretch either in a seated position or while you're on your back, according to SpineUniverse.com.

Range of Motion

Performing flexion and extension active range of motion will stretch tight neck muscles, improve neck flexibility and maintain your cervical spine's global and segmental range of motion, according to NeckExercises.net. Sit on a chair or bench and keep your back straight and your head in a neutral position, vertically aligned with your shoulders. This is starting position. Tuck your chin to your throat and slowly bend your neck forward until the chin contacts the top of your chest. You should feel a gentle stretch in the back of your neck. If you're unable to touch your chin to your chest due to limited neck range of motion, tuck your chin and bend your neck forward until you feel a gentle stretch in the back of your neck. Hold your stretch for 10 seconds before slowly and carefully tilting your head backward. To augment your stretch, lean forward slightly, gently push out your chest and draw back your shoulders until you feel a light stretch in your shoulder girdle. Hold your stretch for five seconds before returning your head and neck to your starting position. This constitutes one repetition. Perform five repetitions, three times per week.

Chin Tucks

Perform chin tucks to stretch neck muscles and maintain posture. Chin tucks target your suboccipital muscles, which are the muscles in the back of your neck near the base of your skull. According to Somatics.com, "habituated tension of the suboccipital neck muscles, which pull upon the connective tissue that enwraps the skull," will cause headaches. Perform chin tucks by sitting on a chair, a bench or even cross-legged on the floor and keeping your back straight. This is starting position. While looking forward with a level gaze, move your head directly backward (without extending your neck) and tuck your chin to your throat. Keep everything below your neck still. You should feel a gentle stretch in the back of your neck, just under the base of your skull. Hold your stretch for five seconds, then return to your starting position. Repeat this exercise 10 times, three to five times per week.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.