Neck Pain Exercise

Neck pain exercises might seem like the last thing you want to do if you are suffering from pain. Studies and testimonials have shown that exercise might be just the thing for bringing not only short-term, but long-term relief from pain and associated symptoms.

The way to start is always by consulting your physician first. He or she may refer you to a physical therapist, chiropractor or massage therapist, all of whom will offer specific plans for your exercise and therapy regimen. If your doctor says you are not a good candidate for exercise therapy, it may be because your injury requires surgery, or your overall condition is not well enough to embark on a physical therapy course just yet. You might be advised to start very, very slowly, and work your way up to the strengthening and conditioning levels you need to feel better over the long haul.


Exercise may not help acute neck or back pain, which is a sharp, sudden onset of pain with sometimes severe underlying causes. Acute pain is always reason enough to immediately see your physician, because of the possibility of dangerous injury. Exercise is recommended only for neck pain that is chronic and has been diagnosed by professionals as not requiring surgical intervention.

Exercise routines vary, but usually include at least one type of low-impact aerobic training, such as walking or swimming. Jogging is not generally recommended at the beginning, as it is jarring and can cause further injury. One should work up to greater distances slowly; depending on the level of your neck pain, start with a walk around the block and gradually raise your pace and distance to where you are challenged a little bit, but not strained or in further pain. A good pair of shoes is essential for a walking program, as is adequate hydration and temperature-appropriate clothing.

Other neck pain exercises include a series of rolling motions with your head, working your neck and shoulders in a very controlled manner to improve flexibility and circulation. Find a good video, or look online for a program that seems to help you. Check with your doctor before trying anything, though. In the meantime, use homeopathic remedies to relieve pain if you can, such as a memory foam pillow that will support your neck and shoulders properly during sleep.

Another recommended form of exercise for providing strength and flexibility is core work, which usually comes from doing yoga or Pilates. Using large inflatable balls, hand weights and a floor mat, both systems are low-impact and relatively easy to do. They increase your abdominal strength and relieve stress and strain in your neck and shoulders. In other words, strengthened abdominal muscles take strain off your back, which translates into your neck pain being alleviated.

To reiterate, any neck pain exercise program should be checked out with your doctor before you begin. Once you’ve decided to undertake this holistic method of pain relief, exercise common sense and good judgment and listen to any warning signs your body is sending you to avoid further injury. Let your doctor know your progress, and if something is not working for you, ask for other recommendations.

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Filed Under: Neck Pain
Written By:  Updated:
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Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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