Neck Pain Exercises

By Sally Ann Quirke, Chartered Physiotherapist | Filed under: Neck Pain, Exercises for Back Pain


Important - Read before you Start
You need to be careful with neck pain exercises, especially if you have had a trauma to your neck - for example a road traffic accident or a sports injury.
If in doubt, seek professional medical advice as to the cause of your neck pain, and check that it is safe to exercise.”

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Exercises to Relieve Neck Muscle Pain

I sometimes get emails from readers of my site about “what can I do to exercise my neck pain?” “Is it such a good idea?”

It is very difficult for me to advise you on the correct neck exercises without first seeing and assessing your neck - but I would like to give all the safe advice I can in the following.

Before we start, if you have had a trauma to your neck, for example a road traffic accident (whiplash) or a sports injury, you must be especially careful with exercises.

Neck pain resulting from trauma can involve a fracture to your neck, or a tear of a muscle or ligament which requires investigation and then immobility for some time. If you exercise a fractured neck you could lead yourself into greater trouble. So, if you have had a significant trauma please attend a doctor or hospital first. Once you have clearance of a fracture, or total tear of a ligament or muscle, then you can proceed with the exercises below.

If you have a pain in your neck for no obvious reason you can start with these exercises. However two bits of advice - never exercise into pain, and if the pain not respond within 72 hours of exercise, seek medical help.

If want to do some basic home exercises to help with neck pain, then this technique will help with maintain range of movement - in other words keeping the neck moving it in all directions and ranges that do not hurt. Gentle movements available in your neck are:

  1. Turn your head to the right
  2. Turn your head to the left
  3. Bring your right ear to your right shoulder
  4. Bring your left ear to your left shoulder
  5. Look up to the ceiling
  6. Look down to the floor

My general advice is to do these exercises 5 times in each direction 4 times a day. If you do not have full range of movement or you are not are pain free within 72 hours then seek medical advice.

From the outset, strive to correct and improve towards a good posture. Imagine a helium balloon coming from the top of your head, and this lengthening of your neck will facilitate the muscles of your neck and shoulders to work and eventually strengthen.

There are many more exercises for neck pain but they are specific to the type of injury that you have and therefore I would not feel happy to advise you further without seeing you first.

Once you have resolved your neck pain, there are also neck stretches that can help prevent a re-occurrence.


While the content and materials contained in the articles on this website have been written & researched by Sally Ann Quirke, a professional, practising & fully qualified Chartered Physiotherapist (Physical Therapist) based in Ireland, they are provided for general information and educational purposes only. They do not constitute medical advice on any particular individual situation. Please see your Chartered Physiotherapist or other medical practitioner for full and individual consultation.

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