FYI: You need to stretch more than just your neck

Photo by Wesley Tingey/Unsplash

Stiff necks can happen for multiple reasons—incorrect sleeping position, looking at the screen for too long or holding your head in one position for hours. These cause tightness and decreased mobility in your neck area. The good news though is that you can alleviate the discomfort with a number of stretches that target your cervical spine, neck and thoracic spine (the middle of your back)—the system that addresses the numbness of your neck. So, whenever you experience neck stiffness, grab your mat and do these five easy stretches: 


Neck extension (upward bending)
  1. Start in a seated position
  2. Gradually bend your neck backwards while gazing towards the ceiling 
  3. Do this for five to 10 seconds and five repetitions 


Seated Clasping Neck Stretch
  1. Sit comfortably on a mat and make sure your head is stacked above your ribs 
  2. Bring your hands and palms at the back of your head
  3. Press your hands to your thighs and bring your chin into your chest
  4. Do this for 30 seconds per round along with breaths in and out


Thread the Needle
  1. Start by putting your hands under your shoulders and hips over your knees
  2. Reach for your right arm and put it across your body with your palm upfront
  3. Bend your left elbow and lean into your right side. Make sure you feel the stretch at the back of your right shoulder
  4. Hold this position for one full diaphragmatic breath cycle in a bottom position and return to starting position once completed
  5. Do this for 30 seconds per side

Behind the Back Drill

  1. Lie face down and place both your palms on the back of your head. Make sure your elbows are facing the sides of your neck 
  2. Form a letter Y shape with your arms by extending them
  3. Stretch your arms as wide as you can and circle them to the sides of your body with your palms down
  4. Circle your arms backwards and then return to the starting position. Then place your hands at your head for two seconds
  5. Do this for 30 seconds per side
Upper Trapezius Stretch
  1. First, stand and put one of your hands on your lower back and the other at the opposite side of your head
  2. Pull your head toward your shoulder while looking straight. Make sure you feel your neck stretch 
  3. Do this for 30 seconds per side