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Top Four Exercises for Neck Pain

neck pain exercises

If you’re experiencing neck pain, I’m here to share four top exercises with you. Two of them are for the thoracic spine, and two are specifically for your neck, aiming to help alleviate any discomfort you might be feeling.

I’m Hoang Tran, an occupational therapist and certified hand therapist. I want to help you with these neck exercises because many patients come to my clinic with hand and arm problems that often stem from unresolved neck pain. I want to share these exercises with you so that you can avoid experiencing similar issues.

Top Four Exercises for Neck Pain

Let’s break down these exercises into two segments to assist you in starting your journey toward relieving your neck pain. Your neck and cervical spine sit atop your thoracic spine, so we’ll begin with thoracic movements. I believe the order of exercises matters, and starting with thoracic movements before focusing on the neck can bring faster relief.

  • Twisting for Thoracic Spine:
    • Stand or sit comfortably.
    • Place your hands on your chest or belly.
    • Twist to one side, moving towards the more comfortable direction.
    • Return to the center and then twist to the other side.
    • Repeat this movement ten times on each side.
  • Thoracic Extension:
    • Option 1 (Easiest): Lie on your belly and prop yourself up on your elbows.
    • Option 2: Clasp your hands behind your neck, let your elbows fall forward, and drive your elbows up.
    • Option 3 (Hardest): Clasp your hands, put your elbows on the wall, and drive your chest forward.
  • Chin-Tuck:
    • Look forward and place two fingers on your chin.
    • Tuck your chin back, creating a double-chin effect.
    • Repeat this movement for ten reps, ensuring you stay within your comfort zone and avoid pain.
  • Neck Extension:
    • Start with chin-tucks, ensuring you feel loose.
    • Tuck your chin back a bit more.
    • Perform a full neck extension by keeping your mouth closed, chin back, and looking up.
    • Do this advanced exercise only if it doesn’t cause pain.

Benefits of Exercises for Neck Pain

One significant advantage is the enhancement of flexibility and range of motion in the neck muscles and joints. Regular, targeted exercises contribute to the reduction of stiffness, promoting a more fluid and pain-free movement in the neck. Additionally, these exercises help alleviate muscle tension and tightness, which is often a common contributor to neck discomfort. Strengthening and stretching exercises also play a crucial role in promoting better posture, mitigating stress on the neck, and potentially preventing future issues related to poor alignment. Furthermore, the increased blood circulation resulting from physical activity facilitates the delivery of essential nutrients and oxygen to the neck muscles, aiding in their recovery and overall health. By incorporating these exercises into a routine, individuals can not only find relief from existing neck pain but also proactively work towards preventing its recurrence and fostering long-term neck health.


Remember, the order and intensity matter. If you’re unsure or have more significant issues, consult a trusted occupational therapist or physical therapist in your local area. Resolving neck issues can prevent hand and arm problems. If you enjoy this post, Leave your comments below to help me create content tailored to your needs. While I can’t provide personalized medical advice, your feedback guides me in addressing common concerns. Thanks for tuning in, and until next time, take care!

About Hoang Tran – an expert in physical & occupational therapy  

Hoang Tran is a Miami-certified hand therapist, the owner of Hands-on Therapy Services and the author of the book “The Hands-On Approach”. She loves helping people with hand, neck and shoulder problems because she knows how bad and debilitating they can get if not addressed and treated properly (once and for all!). 

Her occupational therapy practice aims to bring patients back to full functionality, without pills, injections or surgery. Occupational and Physical Therapy are both offered at Hands-On Therapy by our experienced therapists who provide a comprehensive approach to your care. 

If you or someone you know is living with:

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