Stiff Neck: The 5 Best Neck Exercises For Your Stiff Neck

By Dr Ken Nakamura+

Do you have a stiff neck right now as you sit at your computer?


Would you like to know the best ways to relieve neck pain and stiffness?


Keep reading as I reveal the best ways to relieve a stiff neck.


Today we start with Sonia’s Stiff Neck and Pain Story.


Sonia’s stiff neck pain has been getting increasingly worse over the past few months. She works as an account executive for a local ad firm and sits at her computer for 8 -10 hours a day.


Like most people, she holds her head forward with her chin jutting out. As soon as she sits down she makes sure she is in what she thinks is the perfect posture.


Within a few minutes though, her chin starts to jut out and her head and upper back start to come forward. Within half an hour her neck and upper back are stiff.


Sonia’s done all the exercises that are supposed to be good for her, but nothing is working.


Does this sound like you? The problem lies with the balance of muscles and your posture.


Forward Head Posture: When you hold your head forward and your chin juts out while sitting in front of your computer for long periods of time, you end up doing two things to yourself.


  1. You stretch the muscles at the back of your neck and make them work harder to bring your head back to center. The more forward your head inclines, the harder your muscles have to work and the tighter they feel.
  2. When you shorten the muscles in the front and side of your neck it makes them less active.


When you have forward head posture the imbalance in muscles will give you headaches as well as neck pain.


See Also:  5 Remedies For Headache Pains: How To Get Rid Of Headache Pains


But I’ve tried to correct my posture! For most people the correction only lasts as long as they do their exercises. That’s usually about two minutes. I’m not kidding!

So How Do I Correct My Forward Head Posture?


  1. The Wall Posture check
  2. Stretch your front neck muscles
  3. Stretch Your Trapezius and Levator Scapula
  4. Self treat Your Upper Back Muscles
  5. Recheck Your Posture


First you need to do The Wall Posture Check – standing against the wall, that I first learned from Craig Liebenson.

Wall Posture Check


  1. Stand facing away from the wall and put both feet against the wall.
  2. Find where your body touches the wall.


See Also:  Correct the Exaggerated Posture In Your Low Back With These Easy Posture Exercises

Correct Posture Should Be:


  • Touching the wall at the: Hips, Shoulder blades,  back of your head.
  • Your flattened hand should just fit between your lower back and the wall.
  • Your head should touch the wall flat without having to extend your neck backwards

How to Improve Posture: Common Postural Problems Toronto Chiropractor Downtown

Major Problems with Posture:


  1. Increased Lower Back Arch-Hyperlordosis :
  • If you can fit a fist between your lower back and the wall this means your arch is too curved or you have hyperlordosis.


  1. Decreased Lower Back Arch-Hypolordosis:
  • No room to put your fingers in-between the lower back and wall.


       3.  Increased Mid Back Arch- Kyphosis:


  • Increased mid-back arch – when you cannot touch your head against the wall without extending your neck backwards.
  • Forward head posture.


  1. Sway Back:


  • No lower back arch with the forward head posture


#1. Treat Your Short and Tight Front Neck Muscles

Upper Back Pain -Stretches For Front Of Your Neck to Fix The Upper Back Pain - Toronto Downtown ChiropractorUpper Back Pain: Stretches For Front Of Your Neck to Fix The Upper Back Pain - Toronto Downtown Chiropractor

  • Put both hands on your chest just below the collar bone, pushing down.
  • Extend your neck backwards and to opposite the side.
  • Do 3 sets for 30 seconds on both sides several times a day.


#2. Treat Your Trapezius muscle

Headache Pain Exercise #5 Trapezius Stretch

That’s one of the muscles that raises your shoulder. To stretch this muscle follow these steps.


  • Let one shoulder relax and drop.
  • Bend your neck sideways away from the shoulder that is relaxed.
  • Put your left hand (for this picture) on your head and let the weight of your arm pull your head down.
  • You should hold for 30 seconds or more for 3 sets. Do this exercise several times a day.


#3. Treat Your Levator Scapulae (Trapezius stretch modified.)


  • Do the trapezius stretch.
  • Gradually turn your chin toward the opposite shoulder while holding that stretched feeling.
  • You should feel it on the same side you felt the trapezius stretch, but more in the neck area.
  • Do 3 sets for 30 seconds on both sides.

#4. Treat Your Stiff Neck With Two Tennis Balls In A Sock.

Stiff Neck Treatment With Tennis Balls In sock

Stiff Neck Treatment With Tennis Balls In sock

  • Put two tennis balls / hockey balls in a sock and tie the end of the sock.
  • Neck Treatment: Lie face up and put the tennis balls on either side of the spine underneath the neck.
  • Bridge up with your legs for the lower part of the neck.
  • You will feel a deep ache, hold for 30 seconds to a minute then move on to exercise 5.

#5. Treat Your Upper Back Muscles To Help Your Stiff Neck.

  • Same as the the neck treatment above except you put the tennis balls on your upper back.
  • If you want more pressure, bridge with both arms crossed on your chest.


After doing the exercises, do your Wall Posture Check again to gauge your progress. Your neck is likely feeling a little less painful and is not as stiff now.


These exercises are designed to help your stiff neck pain and associated upper back pain. For a postural fix of the forward neck posture stay tuned over the next few weeks as we talk more about posture.



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.











Dr Ken Nakamura

16 Responses to Stiff Neck: The 5 Best Neck Exercises For Your Stiff Neck
  • Gabriel says:
    February 14, 2019 at 2:21 am

    Arigato Dr. Nakamura,
    The front neck stretch worked like magic and made my day.
    Can I ask you, many websites have articles about upper and lower cross syndrome but
    none is addressing both syndromes at the same time and give exercise tips to tackle both issues
    Would you have some good tips where to start?
    Thank you in advance,

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      February 27, 2019 at 3:09 am

      Thanks for your question Gabriel. You simply do all the exercises the upper crossed syndrome and lower crossed syndrome exercises. I simply tell my patients to do all the exercises involved.

      Hope that helps. The above is an opinion and not a recommendation.

  • Colleen says:
    December 9, 2018 at 4:51 am

    Hi Ken, thanks for your simple explanations and exercises. Your website and information are fantastic. I now feel that i have the tools to help myself. Thanks again. Colleen

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      January 13, 2019 at 6:48 pm

      You are welcome, Colleen. I do my utmost to give you the best articles I can through research, experience. If you have any questions I will do my best to give you a good answer.

      Dr Ken Downtown Toronto Chiropractor.

  • kayz says:
    September 14, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    i have pain on my right arm since last month. everytme i sat at my computer, i felt the pain and could not focus due to the pain. so i have disc herniation?

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      September 15, 2016 at 10:02 am

      Thanks for your question Kayz. You don’t say much about your symptoms so it can be a myriad of things. Anything from nerve pain, muscles, discs etc… There is no way to tell without you being more descriptive.

  • Christina vicale says:
    April 18, 2016 at 9:55 pm

    Hi dr. N,
    just writing to say many thanks for taking the time to maintain such a comprehensive and useful site. I too, have scoured the net for exactly what you have provided here so clearly. It really is a savior, you are a savior and again thank you very much. P.s. I’m 47 suffer from three bulging discs, two in my military neck! I have a little arthritis there and slight scoliosis in my lower back. As well I have a hyper lordosis back. Your exercises are perfect! : )

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      April 19, 2016 at 11:09 pm

      Thanks for your encouraging comments. Your thanks are part of the reason why I keep this site going. I appreciate what you are saying.

      Hope that helps your stiff neck.

  • Tor G Holmen says:
    February 16, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    Hey, mate. Cheers for the article. Very informing. I’m a 27 year old office worker, I have always excercised manically, I text all the time, or im otherwise on my phone, and now, unsurprisingly, things have started to go wrong. My neck is killing me. My posture is typical of that of someone who goes to the gym too much (hyper arch in the lower back, big upper back, head forward). Ive almost stopped going to the gym and started yoga instead, but it seems to train my lower back disproportionally, thus arching my back more, and my neck is even worse. I’m sitting ergonomically at the desk but its still getting worse. Im very sure this can be fixed with the correct excercise. I saw the ones you have posted and, although good, arent really “working out”, as in breaking a proper sweat. My question is really: Should I go back to the gym in addition to the yoga? And if so, which excersises should I do, and which should i not? Maybe its easier to just say which muscles to excersise/not excersise, i.e. upper back? Legs? Abs, chest etc.

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      February 18, 2016 at 11:52 am

      Thanks for your question Tor.
      These are the exercises that will help your neck. If you start to get pain, numbness, or tingling going down from your neck into your shoulder or shoulder blade area you should stop.

      No matter how good the exercises are if you keep aggravating your problem you will continue to have the problem. You need to text with the proper neck position and likely not use your phone so much. If you don’t change you will continue to get worse and actually get a serious disc bulge and eventually a disc herniation. Change your ways.

      Hope that helps your neck.

  • aamir says:
    August 25, 2015 at 8:26 pm

    Good evening, Ken ,

    Got this website while searching for slip disc exercises .

    I have been suffering from back , upper back and neck pain for the last five months . My X Ray report says I have early sign of deneration .

    I was asked to do leg raise and head raise exercises , but I did various other exercises with that , now the situation is getting worse . Currently I have both lower and upper back pain including neck .

    Today, I started doing exercises recommended by you for slip disc I find it not painful .

    So do you think I should continue it .

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      September 9, 2015 at 9:55 am

      Thanks for your question Amir. You have to remember that any exercise can hurt you. These exercises should be supervised by a health professional. If the pain gets worse or you get symptoms further down into the shoulder or arm o even forearm than you are getting worse.

      Hope that helps your upper back and neck pain.

  • Fran says:
    June 3, 2015 at 8:13 am

    Dear Dr Ken, I want to thank you for your generosity and altruism in providing this invaluable resource online. I have been to many physiotherapists over the years, and got only a fraction of the help you give so generously here. I believe that I have a disc herniation, and have medial nerve pinching that is giving me carpal tunnel and inner elbow pain, and have been going to fitness classes and pilates that apparently have been causing, or aggravating, my problems. My question is, because I have chronic pain and stiffness in the neck and upper back and shoulders through decades of computer use with forward head posture, I wonder if the more strenuous exercises that you give for the neck and back might hurt my herniated disc: I am too scared to try them. Many, many thanks again.

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      June 3, 2015 at 8:58 am

      Thanks for your question Fran. You should try these exercises for a disc herniation in the neck.
      In your case even the first exercise may aggravate the problem. The way to tell if you are aggravating the problem is that if you feel any pain, numnbness or tingling in your neck or below into your shoulder, upper back or arms. In fact anywhere. If you feel any of these than you should stop the exercises. Then you won’t make yourself worse.

      Hope that helps with your cervical disc herniation.

    May 13, 2015 at 7:05 am

    Hi Dr Hen: My name is Priscilla and it’s nice to meet you. I was just online looking for exercises for my aching joints. I have been diagnosed with arthritis, that is basically, attaching most of my joints. The main one is my lumbar spine and hips. I found your material to be very helpful and I will continue to follow up and stay in touch with any new information, you may have in the future. Fill free to email me anytime, I am an unemployed nurse, due to my afflictions. I also have to be assessed, by a psych doctor, for the severe stress, that I have been going through for two years. However, with the medications I been taking, I am still in severe pain, but no longer with thoughts of dying. Depression is not a diseased, to take slightly. Well you have a nice day and oh, you looks very healthy and handsome. Ms Chambliss of Chicago, IL.

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      May 14, 2015 at 8:32 am

      Thanks for your comment Priscilla. I like chickens but haven’t been called Dr. Hen before. Glad you are doing better with the exercises.

      Hope you get rid of your arthritis and your stiff neck.

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