Do you suffer from chronic neck pain and ever wonder…Why don’t my neck stretches work?
Even though you’ve Googled and YouTubed them about a hundred times…
There are a few reasons why stretching your neck might not be doing anything to help get rid of your neck pain.
It could be your technique
It could be you’re doing the wrong stretch
It could be that you just shouldn’t be stretching your neck at all!
Let’s go over the different reasons why your neck stretches might not be working… and most importantly… what you can do about it.
1. You’re doing it wrong.
Although research studies are inconclusive regarding how long you should hold a particular stretch, most people feel good when they hold a stretch for 30-60 seconds. When it comes to technique, one of the biggest problems I see is not relaxing enough. If you’re tense, or gripping your muscles at the same time you’re stretching, it won’t work very well. It’s important to breathe and move easily into the stretch. If you try to force it or push through pain, you’ll likely tense up.
Now let’s say you’re doing everything right (not tensing or gripping) but your stretches still don’t seem to work.
Some people (myself included) respond better to “movements”. This is where instead of holding one static position for a prolonged period – you repeatedly move through one or several end-range stretches. Neck rolls are a great example of this.
If your neck stretches haven’t been working, try adjusting the way you’ve been stretching… if it works… then you were likely just using the wrong technique.
2. You’re doing the wrong type of stretch.
This one could be a little tougher to figure out on your own. There is a difference between corrective neck stretching and stretching to feel good.
For example, let’s say your neck is tightening up because you’ve been under a lot of stress or you just did a lot of activity that impacts your neck. Generic neck stretches such as bringing your chin to your chest, or pulling your chin to the opposite shoulder (known as an “upper trap stretch”) may be all you need.
In fact, I do stretches like this regularly because I’m constantly leaning over to help patients. I stretch my neck to PREVENT it from having problems and because it feels good.
But let’s say you already have a neck problem, or you have pain or numbness running down your arm.
In these instances, generic neck stretching could make you worse.
You likely need corrective movements, like what we prescribe for patients in our office.
Corrective movements are specifically prescribed to address your particular problem in your neck – and are very different from the generalized stretches that are designed to feel good and relieve tension.
If you think you might need corrective stretches for your neck – DO NOT google them – you must see a specialist and have them prescribed to you.
3. You shouldn’t be stretching your neck at all!
This is a very common problem we see… folks come in with complaints of chronic tightness and discomfort in their neck and no matter how often they stretch or massage, it doesn’t go away.
Did you know that chronic neck tightness can be a sign of an upper back or lower back issue?
It’s quite common – and if that is the case for you – no amount of stretching will help – and could even aggravate your problem!
The deep, stabilizing muscles of your neck are connected by fascia to the deep muscles along your spine. If certain parts of your spine are not moving properly, then your neck will often kick in and try to help.
Ever notice that your neck is always sore or tight after sitting at the computer too long?
This could be a sign that your neck is compensating for how stiff you are along your spine.
Stop stretching your neck, learn how to move in the right direction, the right way, and see a specialist who can help you.
In our occupational therapy office, our specialists look at the whole way your body moves – so that we can get to the root cause of your problem.
If you’re dealing with chronic neck problems that aren’t’ responding to stretching…
There’s a good chance you could be not stretching correctly, the stretches aren’t right for you, or you’ve completely missed the root cause of your neck pain and you shouldn’t be stretching at all!
Written by Hoang Tran
About the author – Hoang Tran
Hoang Tran is a certified hand therapist and the owner of Hands-on Therapy Services and 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!).
The aim of her occupational therapy practice is to bring patients back to full functionality, without pills, injections or surgery.
Want to work with our specialists and finally get some help for your neck problem?
CLICK HERE to request a Free Discovery Session with one of my specialists.
They’ll set up a time to talk to you about what’s going on with your neck – and if you’re a good fit for what we do – will help you get started!
This is only for people serious about getting help…
And for those that are finally ready for a long-term solution to their pain – one that will put an end to constantly relying on pain pills – and help you avoid expensive procedures and risky surgery.
In these difficult times, we are here to help. Telehealth and online sessions are available!
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.