Unlock Relief: The Top 5 Neck Exercises for Alleviating Stiffness


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, 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 the centre. 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 a 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, which 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 the 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 Chiropractor
Upper 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 collarbone, 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 relaxed shoulder.
  • 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 socks
  • 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. Let us know your vote for the best Toronto Chiropractor in the comments below.


Leave a Reply

  • 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,

    • Post

      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.

      • Dr. Greeting you.
        I have Neck facets joint Atrthropathy, c3c4 c4c5 c5c6 c6 c7 disc bulge and left side stenosis show me best excercise . I have these sign symptom tripzus muscle spasm intercostal muscle spasm burning sensation both scapular region over both shoulder for two year

  • 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

    • Post

      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.

  • 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?

    • Post

      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.

  • 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! : )

  • 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.

    • Post

      Thanks for your question Tor. https://www.bodiempowerment.com/cervical-disc-herniation-best-exercises-help-sore-neck/
      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.

  • 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 .

    • Post

      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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • Post

      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.

Dr Ken Nakamura downtown Toronto Chiropractor
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Dr. Ken, has been recognized as the Best Toronto Chiropractor in 2024, 2023, and 2018, here in downtown Toronto. As a sports chiropractor, he excels in treating a wide range of conditions including concussions, temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ), sports-related injuries, and spinal issues. Beyond his clinical skills, Dr. Ken is an accomplished athlete, having represented Ontario in the Canadian Judo Championships and completed the Toronto Marathon on two occasions. He employs the innovative C3 Program to provide targeted and effective care to his patients, ensuring a holistic approach to their well-being and athletic performance.