3 Exercises To Help Your Cervical Spine Pain: Neck Pain

By Dr Ken Nakamura+

Would giving your child a piggy back, as in the  picture above give you neck pain? Then this article is for you.


Research shows that exercises help neck pain. [1] But which neck exercises are most helpful for your cervical spine pain (neck pain)?


In this issue of Bodi Empowerment  I show you three exercises to help your cervical spine pain. These exercises are a modification of the McKenzie exercises that I have found helpful for your cervical spine.


 See Also: The 5 Best Exercises For Your Stiff Neck



The Double Chin


Many people’s neck pain comes from overstretched ligaments caused by postural stress. Over a long period of time bad posture stretches the ligaments more and more until you feel pain.


Leave it longer and the muscles at the back of your neck and upper back get stretched out and tight. The muscles at the front of the neck get weak causing a muscle imbalance.


A great way to address the stress on the ligaments and muscles is to do the double chin exercise.

Cervical Spine Pain Exercise:Double Chin (Retraction) -Toronto Downtown Chiropractor

  • Tuck your chin in and down.
  • Move the head slowly backwards until it is pulled back as far as it will go and keep it in this position for 4 seconds.
  • You should see a double chin in the mirror.
  • Do this 10 times per session every 2 hours if you have cervical spine pain.

Look Up! (Sitting Extension)


Discs are eventually damaged from your unnatural posture over a long period of time, causing cervical spine pain. Damaged discs tend to bulge and prevent many movements as if you are stuck in with your head to one side, or you might have no movement in any direction.  Discs are another source of cervical spine pain.

Cervical Spine Pain Exercise: Look Up -Extension -Toronto Downtown Chiropractor

  • Sit down and do a double chin.
  • Lift your chin to look up going as far as you can .
  • Keep going as far as you can and hold for 5 seconds.
  • Do this 10 times per session every 2 hours for your cervical spine pain.

Look Right! Look Left! (Neck Rotation)


Cervical spine pain comes from different sources including ligaments, muscles and discs as I have mentioned above. When you have no more pain or very little pain you can increase your range of motion in rotation.

Cervical Spine Pain Exercise:Rotation -Toronto Downtown Chiropractor

  • Sit down and do a double chin and keep that position as you do this exercise.
  • Turn your head as far right as you can go. Now turn your head as far left as you can go
  • If you get pain continue on the side of pain. Yes rotate your head into the pain. Not hard. Just a little bit into the pain
  • Your cervicial spine pain should decrease
  • If the pain increases switch sides and continue only on that side.


Tell us what you think in the comments below and like us on Facebook. This Toronto Downtown Chiropractor will answer all questions in the comments section. If you want to ask a question more privately just send me an email at drken@bodiempowerment.com


1. Bronfort G, Evans R, Anderson AV, et al. Spinal manipulation, medication, or home exercise with advice for acute and subacute neck pain. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2012; 156(1):1–10.


Dr Ken Nakamura

22 Responses to 3 Exercises To Help Your Cervical Spine Pain: Neck Pain
  • Chetan says:
    January 18, 2016 at 10:21 pm

    I have tingling and numbness in my left arm (especially forearm to fingers) when I raise my neck up toward the ceiling. My range of motion to the left and right is normal. I feel soreness in my neck on the left side when i bend my neck towards the floor and my chin touches the chest, but no tingling or numbness.

    My cervical spine MRI findings are as follows:
    “There is no spondylolisthesis. There is disc desiccation at C6/7. Reduction in the C4/5 to C6/7 disc space noted. There is no marrow or paravertebral soft tissue edema. The spinal cord returns normal signal and there is no intraspinal mass seen. The structures of the imaged posterior fossa are unremarkable. At C3/4 to C5/6, there are diffuse disc bulges/posterior protrusions that indent the theca sac. No neural foramen narrowing is seen. At C6/7, a posterior disc protrusion indents the thecal sac. There is an ovoid focus at the left neural foramen that may be due to disc protrusion/sequestration, results in left neural foramen narrowing. However, a mass is not excluded.”

    Can you guide me with the right exercises and postures? Thanks very much.

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      January 19, 2016 at 12:44 pm

      Thanks for your question Chetan. Try these exercises. https://www.bodiempowerment.com/cervical-disc-herniation-best-exercises-help-sore-neck/
      These exercises can make you worse. If the pain increases or symptoms like numbness, tingling or pain go further down the into the fingers or get stronger than you are getting worse and should immediately stop the exercises. These exercises should be supervised by a health professional that knows about these exercises.

      • Chetan says:
        January 23, 2016 at 9:56 pm

        Thanks Dr. Ken. I will revert with the results after trying out the exercises.

  • Francisca says:
    September 21, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    Hi, I’m 60 years old and my MRI showed that I have bulging Disc to posterior central C5-6, C6-7 and extrusio disc tall as C5-6 to left resesus lateralis. Pasca contras very impressed of HNP C5-6 left, not seen listeris/collaps vertebra along cervical and a little bit scoliosis cervico thoracal desroversi. I had recover afer 3 months went to neurologist doctor.
    I had a numbness in my left thumb finger. For many years I ‘ve practise yoga and swimming.
    Will appreciate your advise for me to do both excercise ? Thanks…

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      September 24, 2015 at 11:55 pm

      Thanks for your question Francisca. I would just do the chin tucks for now. However if that causes pain, numbness or tingling then you should stop and the exercises are not for you.

      Hope that helps your bulging cervical disc.

  • reza says:
    July 1, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    thanker for your web sit
    thats perfct exersice for peopel this days

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      July 2, 2015 at 2:36 am

      You are welcome Reza. Hope that helps the pain in your neck.

  • Rob sabourin says:
    May 10, 2015 at 5:34 am

    Dr ken I have a question my physiotherapist says I have a bulged disk c7 when I went in for shoulder blade pain from lifting weights. She had me do retractions and extensions for my neck but it was hurting even more now I find it hard to hold my head up when in a car driving. could when I do retractions and extensions hurt my neck more for any reason cause when I do them it hurts a lot. Any advice would help Ty.when I was lifting weights the next day killed when driving in the car then neck pain was gone but shoulder was sore I’m afraid to do retractions and extensions now cause of how much pain it gave me thanks for your time.

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      May 11, 2015 at 8:35 am

      Thanks for your question Rob. Great question. First when do retractions they shouldn’t give you any symptoms below the neck. Not even a slight tingling or mild pain. You are surely making the problem worse at that point, if you feel any symptoms.

      You can always use a towel like in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBBuz4owsb4

      Don’t do the extension part when you are not ready. You should just do repeated retractions with a towel. Any symptoms below the neck and you should stop and not do the exercises.

      Sounds like your physio knows some but not all of the technique properly or that there was a communication problem. Either way that is a problem.

      The exercises should be supervised by a health practitioner.

      Hope that helps your C7 disc bulge.

  • bola says:
    April 11, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    I have pain on the sides of my neck that radiates to my throat. It get worst with facial paresthesia when traction is used with ift and heat. Only subside with ultrasound. MRI showshave D1-2 podterocentral bulge,mildly abutting the spinal cord and C3-4 C 4-5, C5-6 discs showing mild annular bulge, indenting anterior thecal sac causing no obvious neural compression
    Please what do l do. The frequency of its radiation to the arm has decreased. Its over 4 years but the pain is more localise to the side of neck/throat and get trigger with bending my neck

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      April 13, 2015 at 7:54 am

      Thanks for your question Bola. Sounds like the disc but keep in mind I haven’t examined you or have a proper history. The disc doesn’t show up as in the MRI you are lying down. You get a lot more pressure in the neck by bending your neck. The MRI can’t see that.

      Just do exercise #4.
      This won’t cure you but it can give you some relief. The other exercises in this article may help but it is very likely to aggravate you an even cause a more lasting pain. I would get an opinion from a good chiropractor. I wouldn’t get your neck adjusted though.

      Hope that helps your cervical disc herniation.

  • Asad says:
    October 11, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    Hi Doctor,
    I had a C6-C7 cervical operation a few years ago. That subsided the severe pain I had in my left arm. Now I am feeling numbness and weakness in my right hand. Please suggest some exercise to regain the strength of my right hand. Thanks.

  • Jaime says:
    September 2, 2014 at 12:09 am

    Today, I have been diagnosed via MRI of Right Paracentral Disc Extrusion. Right now, I have only ‘moderate’ pain on my right shoulder, upper arm. The neurosurgeon attending to my case advised for an 8-week physiotherapy, NSAIDS and pain killers (though I dont take the painkillers because the pain is still bearable). He told me that if the pain still persists after the 8-week treatment, he’s considering an ACDF surgery.

    Is there any other way that I could try make myself better and not undergo ACDF?

  • Mehmet says:
    August 29, 2014 at 4:31 am

    Mr. Nakamura,
    I have forward head posture, are these exercises beneficial for me?

  • Mary says:
    July 22, 2014 at 3:15 am

    By the way, the pain is on my whole back. Thank you again!

  • Mary says:
    July 22, 2014 at 3:05 am

    After a car accident whiplash, my MRI result show central disc protrusion C4-5. I’ve been having pain from sleeping face up or side ways. I wake up from pain and I can’t get out of the bed most of the days. I’m okay during the day. What treatment do you recommend? Are there exercises to push the disc back into place? Thank you so much in advance for your help! Sincerely, Mary

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      July 22, 2014 at 9:41 pm

      Thanks for coming by Mary. Sounds like you don’t have any pain going down your arm. Likely in this case you can do the exercises shown in this article. Just go to the point of pain, then stay within the pain-free range. You should see some results. If the pain is acute (very recent accident) than the you shouldn’t do the exercises until the sharp pain from moving your neck have dissipated. Once you can do the exercise without sharp pain you are ready to start.

      With most accidents your insurance or the other party’s insurance should pay for professional treatment. I hope you have a competent and professional chiropractor or physiotherapist guiding you through this.

      Hope that helps your cervical disc herniation.

  • Sampson says:
    March 25, 2014 at 7:18 am

    Wow these really worked. I especially enjoyed the double chin method of stretching. I had never thought to try that before.

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      March 25, 2014 at 10:40 am

      Thanks for your comment Sampson. I am elated that the exercises worked for you. If you questions just let me know.

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