Neck pain and headaches are often caused by excessive muscle tension in the neck and shoulders, which can lead to nerve impingements, disc misalignments and feelings of tension, discomfort and pain in the neck and head. These symptoms can be relieved, or at least partially relieved, with a regular stretching routine that lengthens all of the major muscle groups of the neck and shoulders.
The Muscles of the Neck
The major muscle groups of the neck include the erector spinae, scalenes, levator scapulae, upper trapezius and sternocleidomastoid muscles. To learn how to stretch each muscle group individually, watch the following videos:
Simple Yoga Exercises For Neck Pain Relief
Neck Stretch: Anterior Scalenes
This stretch is designed to access the anterior scalenes, a layer of deeper neck muscles that cover both sides of the neck. They are often quite tender and tight, so this stretch can provide a lot of relief.
There is no better stretch that gets the muscle that attaches to the shoulder blade from the neck, the Levator Scapula. This can be a chronically tight muscle for many, making this stretch a great source of relief.
This move stretches the muscles on the side of the neck, including the Upper Trapezius, Scalenes and Erector Spinae.
One of the ways that we accumulate tension in our neck is by turning it quickly to look at something without awareness of how it feels. This pose focuses on ensuring that you have proper alignment while improving your necks range of motion.
Neck Stretch: Sternocleidomastoid
This pose stretches the muscles that simply dont get stretched enough... muscles that on many are chronically tight and can cause headaches.
Moving your head in slow, gentle circles is a great warm up exercise before stretching and a nice way to complete a series of neck stretches.
Yoga Classes to Relieve Neck Pain
This 10 min. beginners yoga class takes you through how to stretch all of the major muscle groups of the neck, including those that are commonly responsible for headaches.
Office Yoga for the Neck and Shoulders
This 13 min. beginner yoga class is a perfect way to spend a short break in your work day, stretching the muscles that get so tight from sitting at your desk for hours.
Yoga for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome... and all Shoulder and Neck Problems Caused by Chronic Computer Use
This class helps prevent and heal the problems that are caused by sitting at the computer.
Next Week: Alleviating Neck Pain and Headaches, Part 2: Stretching the Shoulders