Flex and Unwind: Neck and Back Stretches for Quick Relief

You’ve been clicking away, hunched over at your desk for hours. So with a sigh and a groan you reach up for a quick stretch and…. suddenly you feel a sharp pain in your neck or back. 

Absent-mindedly you try to shake it off, but this isn’t the first time and these episodes seem to be getting more frequent. But what should you do?

Unfortunately, neck and back pain is a common problem. More than 4 out of 5 adults experience neck or back pain at some point. This discomfort could range from a minor inconvenience to being so severe it affects your quality of life.

But don’t fret, back and neck pain is usually caused by everyday habits that can be fixed with a few simple changes. The first step is to stretch.

Why Does My Back and Neck Hurt?

Back and neck pain can be due to several reasons ranging from harmless to quite serious. Fortunately, the most common causes of back and neck discomfort can be solved by improving your posture and simple stretching exercises.

Some common causes of neck and back pain are:

  • Poor posture
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Wrong exercise technique
  • Muscle imbalances

Less common causes include:

  • Pinched nerves
  • Injuries like sprains, strains, ligament tears
  • Slipped/ruptured disc
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Spinal infections
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Growths like tumors and bone,
  • Excess muscle tension or spasms

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How Stretching Protects Your Neck and Back

  • It strengthens your muscles.  Stronger muscles stabilize your spine. This allows you to transfer more stress from your joints to your muscles. It reduces joint pain and makes everyday activities like bending, lifting, and twisting more efficient and less likely to cause injury.
  • Stretching increases flexibility. Regular stretching improves your flexibility and range of motion. This allows your muscles and joints to stretch further without feeling strain, reducing your risk of injury while carrying out everyday activities.
  • Helps you relieve stress. Stretching is also a natural pain reliever. During stretching and exercise your brain releases natural “feel good” chemicals called endorphins (google “runner’s high”). These endorphins reduce the feeling of pain in the short term and can improve your mental health if dealing with long-term pain.

Taking Endorphigen Capsules before your workout regimen provides a powerful boost, enhancing endurance, reducing muscle fatigue, and expediting post-exercise recovery

  • Great for your posture. Bad posture is one of the most common causes of neck and back aches. Regular stretching strengthens the muscles of your core and spine which are important for maintaining balance and posture. It also improves your “spinal awareness” by activating the underused muscles of the back and neck, making you more sensitive to bad posture.
  •  Helps you warm up. Not stretching properly before you workout can lead to injury and muscle pain. A good way to prevent this is by carrying out dynamic stretches before your workout and static stretches when you’re done.
  • Improves blood flow to the muscles. As we get older our joints get stiffer and less flexible, leading to muscle aches. Regular stretching helps delay this process by improving blood flow to your muscles and joints. This supplies nutrients and keeps your joints lubricated and your muscles supple.
No Equipment Upper Body Stretching

Easy Stretches To Relieve Your Neck and Back Pain

Here’s our Pamela Reif-inspired upper body stretch routine guaranteed to help you work out those kinks in your neck and back.

Don’t forget to kickstart your workout with Optimum Nutrition Amino Energy Pre Workout Watermelon Powder, ensuring you have the energy and focus needed.

This article contains affiliate links which means that we earn a small commission at no additional cost to you if you make a purchase with our link.

1. Neck Sideview – 30 seconds

  • Stand or sit upright on a comfy exercise mat.
  • Gently turn your head sideways to look over your shoulder.
  • Hold this pose briefly.
  • Perform this same motion towards the opposite side.
  • Perform this exercise for 30 seconds.

To reduce post-workout soreness and loosen your muscles you can use a heated neck and shoulder massager.

Stretching for Neck Pain - Neck Sideview

2. Interlock Fingers – 30 seconds

  • Stand or sit upright with your back straight.
  • Interlock your fingers behind your back.
  • Take a deep stretch by pushing out your chest and extending your interlocked arms as far behind you as you comfortably can.
  • You can add a bit more challenge by attaching resistance bands to a fitness waist strap and pulling against them.
  • Hold this pose for 30 seconds.
Easy Back Stretching At Home - Interlock Fingers

3. Look Up and Down – 30 seconds

  • Clasp your hands behind your head with your spine straight.
  • Slowly tilt your head back to look upwards, then downwards towards your chest, stretching your neck muscles fully.
  • Perform this exercise for 30 seconds.

Using a massage gun can help alleviate muscle pain by providing targeted percussive therapy, promoting increased blood flow and reducing muscle tension.

Upper Body Stretch for Women - Look Up and Down

4. Table Top + Cat – 30 seconds

  • Start on your hands and knees (tabletop position) with a neutral spine.
  • Arch your back upwards (cat pose), and hold briefly.
  •  Release back into a neutral spine.
  • Perform this exercise for 30 seconds.

This pose involves quite a bit of bending, so you’ll want to make sure you’re wearing comfortable, breathable fabrics like THE GYM PEOPLE medium support sports bra.

Quick Upperbody Stretching At home - Table Top + Cat
Quick Upper Body Stretch for Women

5. Table Top + Child Pose – 30 seconds

  • Start in the tabletop position.
  • Sink back onto your shins with your arms fully extended in front with your forehead to the ground (child’s pose).
  • Make sure you feel your back fully stretched out.
  • Hold this pose for 30 seconds.

Reduce discomfort in this exercise by using supports such as knee pad and workout gloves.

Back Stretch Before and After Workout - Table Top + Child Pose

6. Cobra – 30 seconds

  • Start face-down, palms beside your chest and your legs fully extended behind you.
  • Lift your upper body using back muscles but keeping your hips and legs on the floor.
  • Roll your shoulders back and breathe deeply.
  • Hold this pose for 30 seconds.

Placing a yoga block under your palms as you lift into the cobra pose can help maintain proper alignment and support your spine, allowing you to deepen the stretch and improve flexibility safely.

At-home Upper Body Stretch - Cobra

7. Back Stretch – 30 seconds

  • Start on all fours.
  • Stretch your arms fully in front with your forehead to the ground.
  • Stretch your back fully.
  • Hold this pose for 30 seconds.

To amplify the benefits of the back stretch pose, consider incorporating a foam roller. Rolling gently over the length of your back before or after the stretch can help release tight muscles and increase flexibility.

Easy Back Stretching for Beginner - Back Stretch

8. Child Pose – 30 seconds

  • While still in the former pose, shift into the child pose.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds.

To enhance the child’s pose, a yoga bolster can be incredibly beneficial. Placing a bolster under your torso as you fold forward into the pose provides support and allows for a deeper relaxation of the spine and hips.

Best Stretching for Back Pain - Child Pose

For more information on how to perform these exercises check out this Pamela Reif 8-minute upper-body and neck stretch routine.

Basic stretching exercises are safe for most people, but remember to speak with your doctor, physiotherapist, or spine specialist before trying any stretches for your pain.

Common Questions about Neck and Back Stretches

Why do I need to stretch my neck and back?

Regular stretching increases flexibility, improves posture, and reduces your risk of neck or back pain. It’s also a great way to relieve stress and warm up before exercising.

Does stretching stop neck and back tension?

Yes, stretching is a great way to eliminate back and neck tension. Tension causes pain, which leads to stress and further muscle tightening. Regular stretching releases tension and relieves stress, helping you break this cycle.

How can I strengthen my neck muscles at home?

To strengthen your neck muscles at home all you have to do is carry out a few simple exercises like those outlined in this article. You can also strengthen your neck at home with a cervical traction device like a neck stretcher hammock or an inflatable neck brace.

Remember, if you have a history of neck pain or injury always speak with a healthcare professional to make sure that neck strengthening exercises are safe for you.

Is it better to rest or exercise neck pain?

This depends on the cause of the pain, when it occurred, how severe it is, and several other factors. If you want to rest your neck you can try out a comfy cervical traction device or an equally effective neck support pillow. If you are having neck pain speak with your doctor to know if it’s safe for you to exercise your neck.

Do stretching exercises improve body posture?

Yes, regular stretching strengthens the muscles of your core and spine which are important for maintaining balance and posture. It also improves your “spinal awareness” by activating the underused muscles of the back and neck, making you more sensitive to bad posture. Adjustable back braces, hip belts, kinesiology tape, and even posture tracker apps are other effective ways of improving your posture.

Other Ways You Can Relieve Back and Neck Pain

  • Use hot or cold compresses.
  • Posture correctors and braces can also help improve your posture.
  • Acupuncture is an effective and safe way to reduce muscle pain.
  • Relaxing stretching activities like yoga and Pilates.
  • Your doctor might also recommend certain medications to relieve pain and reduce tension in your muscles.
  • Surgery can offer a solution to neck and back pain
  • Physical therapy
  • Ergonomic adjustments like
  • Use mind-body techniques like meditation and deep breathing
  • Massage therapy
  • Try chiropractic care
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Using supportive pillows and a proper sleeping position

From Pain to Progress

Neck and back pain are becoming increasingly common complaints because of our modern, sedentary lifestyles. Poor posture, rising obesity rates, and hours spent on electronic devices mean that most people don’t get the level of physical activity they need. All these eventually add up to chronic aches, stiff joints, and other health issues!

The good news is that all this can be solved with a little stretching and by adding a bit more motion to your daily activities. Try out our stretching routine to work out those kinks and don’t forget to make the best out of every opportunity you get to exercise.

Start your fitness journey today – one stretch at a time!

Pre-workout stretching for upper body
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I am a fitness enthusiats who is passionate about exercising, eating well and living a healthy lifestyle. Come along with me as I share some of my favourite exercise and fitness tips with you.

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