Juliette Kando is a dancer, choreologist, author on fitness and health, and Fellow of the Benesh Institute at the Royal Academy of Dance.
When eliminating pain from a stiff or painful neck or shoulder, we follow the upward progression in body awareness versus gravity. I have written other articles in which I began at the feet—which is the base or foundation of the whole body—and then worked our way up to the ankles, knees, pelvis, waist, torso, etc. In this article, regarding the neck and shoulders, we begin by exploring the base, or the shoulder area, to create a strong foundation that supports the neck and head. As shown in the following table of contents we first discuss what causes neck and shoulder pain in the first place.
- What Causes Neck or Shoulder Pain?
- Shoulder Muscles & Shoulder Alignment
- Arm Swings
- Neck Alignment for Good Posture
- Over Curvature of the Neck - Do You Have a Dowagers Hump?
- Where Your Neck Should Be
- Yes, No, and Maybe
- How do you Sleep?
- Advanced Neck Lengthener
- No More Pain
- Ultimate Solution: A Gravity Inversion Table
- Checklist to Help a Stiff Neck or Shoulder
1. What Causes Neck or Shoulder Pain?
The main cause of neck or shoulder pain is poor posture. You can loosen a stiff neck, frozen shoulders, and upper backache, even headaches and migraines by being well aware of your posture. There is no such thing as a short neck. We all possess seven cervical vertebrae. A short neck is merely curved too deeply. The neck supports the head, so it is obvious that if the head is carried too far in front of the body instead of directly above the spine, where it belongs, the muscles at the back of the neck are doing unnecessary overtime. Permanently tense and raised shoulders, poor sleeping habits, stress, or cold drafts also contribute to neck and shoulder pain. The overload in muscle tension just to hold your head up, but in the wrong way, can eventually escalate into chronic headaches and migraines. Oh dear, what to do, what to do?
First, let us look at the shoulder area to create a strong base needed to help the neck support the head.
2. Shoulder Muscles
The main muscles that work the shoulders are the trapezius, the pectoralis (pecs) and the latissimus dorsi (lats) muscles; their job is to move the arm. Muscles work in a chain reaction fashion. When the arm rotates inward, it takes the shoulder with it. As this happens, the muscles at the front of the shoulder tighten while the muscles of the upper back become overstretched and weak. This results in:
- kyphosis with forward head posture
- tight muscles in the front of the shoulder
- weak muscles in the upper back
Anyone who works for long hours at a desk is prone to this imbalance.
Correct Position of the Shoulder Joint
While the pecs and the lats are primarily movers of the arm, the rhomboids at the back provide stability to the shoulder joint. As the pecs and lats work to rotate the arm inward the rhomboids in the upper back become weak. This causes the shoulder joint to go too far forward, out of its neutral alignment, beyond its range of safety. This can be avoided by strengthening the upper back, using the rhomboids. Get off your chair for a minute and do the following shoulder alignment move to feel the rhomboid muscles putting your shoulders back into their correct place.
- Stand up with the arms hanging loosely by your sides, like the sleeves of an empty coat.
- Rotate the wrists outward as far as possible.
- Release the rotation in the lower arm (turn your palms in towards your thighs from the elbow) BUT...
- Keep the shoulders and upper arm in the same place as in 2. above.
You should feel a widening and flattening of the area immediately in front of your shoulder, allowing the shoulder joint to be placed at the side of your body rather than in front of it. That is where your shoulder likes to live most comfortably.
Relax the Shoulders
Raised shoulders cause the curve in the back of the neck to be too deep. As you can see from the red line of gravity, the head is carried too far in front of the body. This puts unnecessary strain on the muscles of the neck. A shortened neck often causes headaches and migraines. A double chin also often appears when the head is not carried above the spine. Firstly loosen the shoulders with the "Arm-swings and Circles" moves below, then proceed to the neck exercises in the following section.
3. Arm Swings
- Stand in a stable lunge position, the left foot in front and the right foot behind with the front leg bent and both heels on the floor.
- Swing the right arm up as far as you can until you feel the limit in the shoulder joint.
- Swing the arm down and back, again as far as you can feel it stop in its joint.
Breathe in on the uplift and out on the down swing. Use momentum rather than force, allow the arm to drop as it goes down. Do about eight or more swings while increasing speed and momentum until you are sure that all the little crackly noises (stiffness) have gone from your shoulder joint.
Reverse the position of the feet and repeat with the left arm.
Full Arm Circles
Stand in the same position as in the previous sequence and now make continuous backward circles with your arm. Again, breathing in as you go up and breathing out as you go down. Begin slowly and increase the speed of the movement until your arm wants to circle quite fast to throw off all the tension; until you feel a tingling in your fingertips. If you look at your hand, it is quite red, full of blood. When you finish, hold the arm above the head and shake the hand to allow all the blood to flow back down again.
Change the position of your feet and repeat on the other side.
Note: Welcome any clicking or crunching noises in your shoulder as long as it doesn't hurt. All the above moves are oiling your rusty joints. After a few repetitions, those noises soon vanish.
Once the shoulders are nicely loose and relaxed, proceed with neck alignment.
5. Over Curvature of the Neck
Get the photo album and find a picture of yourself in your profile. Sorry, but if you carry your head as shown in the first picture above, you are in real trouble. When the neck is over-curved, the head is not aligned above the spine but has to be carried in front of the body. That takes a lot of effort and pain. Muscles turn into spasms and cause neck and shoulder tension, headaches, migraine, even a Dowagers Hump. Help!
Do You have a Dowagers Hump?
If your neck looks like the first picture above, then it looks like you have a Dowagers Hump. No worries, it can get better with the hints and exercises given in this article.
In the beginning, before your neck is properly aligned and strong enough, be safe rather than sorry. When in pain, I recommend using a neck traction device for about 10 minutes a day to support and stretch the neck in an upward direction. I used the EverRelief cervical neck traction device for many years to prevent the onset a Dowagers hump and to help correct alignment. It supports the neck and relieves tension by elevating the whole skull, giving more room for nerves that may get pinched from an over curvature in the neck.
For Those Who Don't Like to Look Up
Often we suddenly look up, thereby increasing the over-curvature of the cervical vertebrae even more and begin to look like a vulture. Worse than being unsightly, a partly self-strangulated neck cuts off regular blood supply to the brain. A brain, hungry for blood containing oxygen and energy coming from the heart cannot think properly. Finding it difficult to look up also affects one's mood, morale, and attitude. Someone who can only look down is a negative person.
6. Where Your Neck Should Be
Anatomically, the skull is supported by the Atlas (the top cervical vertebra) centrally somewhere between the ears, in line with the central line of gravity. Then, when you look up, keep your neck long as shown above. Doesn't that look much better? Slowly do the following "yes, "no" and "maybe" exercise to achieve this.
7. Yes, No, and Maybe
These moves allow the neck to move in the three planes of motion, round the sagittal, transverse, and frontal axes which I prefer to call 'yes', 'no', and 'maybe'.
Caution before attempting neck exercises, you must establish the severity of your pain by consulting a physician or movement therapist.
- In the downward movement of the "yes" sequence aim to touch your breastbone with your chin. If the back of your neck is completely free of tension your chin should touch your breastbone when you look down - with your mouth closed (don't cheat!).
- On the upward movement of the "yes" sequence keep the back of your neck long as explained earlier.
Slowly repeat 1. and 2. for as long as the little noises inside your neck disappear.
Caution if you suffer from a posterior disc bulge avoid going too far down on this move as it would only increase the damage.
On the "No" sequence, keep the head centered above the spine (between your shoulders. Try to see as far back behind you as you can on each lateral rotation but don't lift up your nose. Slowly repeat looking to the left and right until all the little noises inside your neck disappear.
On the "Maybe" sequence, drop your ear down towards the shoulder while keeping your nose facing the front.
Gently repeat each move eight times or more until all the little crunching noises in your neck have stopped.
Slowly roll the head around clockwise to see how much of your entire periphery you can see. Or, pretend a butterfly is flying around your head and try to follow it with your eyes. After about the third circle, you will notice that you can see a little further. There may still be some little noises going on in your neck. They will eventually disappear. When you've done about four or five rolls, repeat them anti-clockwise. For best results, head rolls may be done in a warm bath under water where your head is virtually weightless.
Forward Head Posture Video
Bookmark the next video by chiropractor Dr. Oliver, to practice how to correct forward head posture on a daily basis. His explanations are clear and simple. I offer one little addition to the advice given in the video: In the beginning, when Dr.Oliver demonstrates the chin tuck, his neck is rather over-curved. I therefore recommend doing the same chin tuck while at the same time lifting the head upwards as if being pulled up by a high ponytail (not looking upwards but pulling the whole head in an upward direction during the chin tuck). Other than that, follow the video to the end to really feel which muscles need to be trained for lasting improvement.
8. How Do You Sleep?
Certain sleeping conditions can give you a stiff neck. Make sure you don’t sleep in a cold draft as this will cause your neck muscles to contract during sleep. Avoid pillows that take the neck out of its neutral alignment. For example, if you are on your right side and the pillow is too large, the neck is vulnerable to being pushed too far towards the left shoulder. Then you might wake up with a stiff neck. Your pillow should be firm and no thicker than the space needed for your head to lie flat on its ear without curving up the other side of the neck.
To train yourself for a better sleeping position you may first want to learn how to meditate in a horizontal position on the floor. Lie on the floor (not on a bed) on your back and simply allow gravity to straighten you out while you relax. Close your eyes and meditate as shown in the illustration below.
9. Advanced Neck Lengthener
This video by Juliette Kando is, as it says in the introduction, only for people with good necks who want their necks to stay that way well into old age.
Huh, sorry but what's a "good neck"?
A good neck allows the body to lie comfortably supine on the floor (on your back) without a pillow.
The HeadWalk by Juliette Kando
10. No More Pain
In most cases of chronic pain, the pain is self-induced from poor movement habits. By slightly modifying your daily movement habits and patterns and being aware of the difference between "good movements" and damaging ones, you are on the road to healing yourself. Once your body can, as a habit, correct itself on an ongoing basis, there is no longer the need to spend extra time "exercising" as such. Just avoid making the wrong, damaging moves.
How Are You?
Voting Results Commentary
The above survey shows that 60% of the population have a chronic stiff neck (over-curvature) while only 1% never have any neck trouble at all. Help! What must we do?
The answer is simple. Ask the question: "What causes over-curvature of the spine and neck?
Gravity. So the final tip I have up my sleeve to prevent having a stiff neck, improve your posture, your looks, your mood, and productivity all at the same time is to use gravity to the body's advantage rather than its detriment. We reverse or invert gravity. Read on...
11. Ultimate Solution: A Gravity Inversion Table
The ultimate solution to chronic neck pain and stiffness, bad back, and general stress related chronic pain is, of course, the gravity inversion table. The bottom line is, if we have to reduce over-curvature, compression, and tightness in the whole skeleton, this can most easily and pleasantly be achieved in a completely passive way with gentle anti-gravity traction as shown in the next video.
Hanging Upside Down to Lengthen the Neck
12. Checklist to Improve a Stiff Neck or Shoulder
Just remember this checklist on how to prevent and improve your stiff neck or shoulder. Then your pain will soon ease away.
- Re-align your shoulders so they are at the side of your body and not in front.
- Retract the head so it sits above the spine (between the shoulders) and not in front of it.
- Keep the chin down.
- Perform the “yes, no, and maybe” exercise at least once a day or whenever you feel stiff in the neck.
- Perform the slow head rolls at least once a day or whenever you feel stiff in the neck. Don’t wait until your neck hurts so much you don’t want to move it.
- Check your sleeping habits and use of pillows as described above.
- Buy a gravity inversion table as shown in the video to straighten you out. No more osteopath bills, no more pain.
The exercises and tips given above will help you attain a level of physical consciousness and awareness to eliminate a stiff neck or shoulder to ease the pain forever. For more useful insights, questions, tips, and solutions from live case studies similar to yours, please follow the comment thread below.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Questions & Answers
Question: Are there substitutes for those who cannot afford an inversion table to treat a stiff neck and shoulders?
Answer: You can get a Gravity Inversion Table for under a hundred dollars which is well worth the investment. However, if even this reasonable outlay towards better health is below your budget here are some alternatives:
1. Lie down on your back across your bed with the upper body /waist area at the edge of the bed. Lift the arms up overhead, hang back and relax. In this way, you can allow the upper body to hang down freely in space. Do this for 5 to 10 deep breaths or longer until you feel it's enough.
2. Using a Pnut ball or a rolled up foam mattress, lie back and relax on it.
3. Hanging by the arms from a door frame, rings or trapeze bar also result in traction in all the joints albeit not in an inverted position.
4. Exercising under water.
These alternatives will not give full inversion traction but may help to provide counteraction to the daily habitual forward bending of the body and release tension.
In short, any action or series of the practices described above will help release some of the pressure and compression damage caused by bad posture and gravity's constant downward pressure on the body. They are all beneficial.
For further information please go to my profile page and check out my articles on:
Hang Upside Down to Align Pelvis for Good Posture
Water Exercises With the Burdenko Method
Finally, this video on my YouTube Channel explains where chronic tension comes from and what to do about it with "Counter Moves".
Question: How long will it take for my stiff neck to get better?
Answer: That totally depends on the severity of your pain and whether you are able and willing to commit to some lifestyle changes and do the exercises shown in the article on a daily basis. As a rule of thumb, as soon as you start gently moving and re-aligning the neck, improvement should begin within a couple of weeks. If you stop, the pain may return. Don't forget to stay mobile in the neck with the famous "YES," "NO," and "MAYBE" exercise. Always keep your shoulders loose and relaxed by the side of your body and your head on top, not in front of the body.
Here is another article with a couple of videos you can follow to help you loosen the neck and shoulders to ease the pain.
Question: I have an injured rotator cuff. I find some of these exercises hard to do. What would you recommend for people with injuries like mine?
Answer: I would recommend doing very gentle slow arm circles. You can do them with the elbow fully bent (putting the hand on top of the shoulder), so the arm doesn't feel as heavy. Only go as far as the pain threshold. Remember my motto: No Pain, Just Gain.
When people are recovering from an injury, I recommend moving underwater in the bath, pool, hot tub, or sea. Water takes the weight off and therefore eases motion. No motion, no cure.
There is a unique method for rehabilitation using warm water therapy. It's called the Burdenko method. Have a look: https://hubpages.com/health/benefits-of-aquatic-ex...
Question: Why do I always I feel pain in my neck, shoulders and upper back after doing shoulder and other workouts at my gym?
Answer: It is difficult to say without knowing which exercises you are doing at the gym. Most likely you are doing them wrong. I suggest speaking with your trainer at the gym about this problem. In any case, always make sure you do the appropriate counter moves (recovery moves) and deep relaxation plus possible massage to relax the areas that are hurting and or overworked.
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on April 05, 2018:
There is plenty of hope Teresa. Just keep correcting your neck alignment and stay mobile.
Teresa Moore on March 27, 2018:
When you talk about neck curvature you mention if my head is over curved (which it is) I'm in trouble, when I try to straighten my neck & drop my chin my double chin turns into no chin. Am I in trouble or is there hope?
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on December 03, 2017:
I recommend doing the "Yes-No-Maybe" exercise very slowly in the bath under water. If you don't have a bath, practice in the hot shower.
daralynn dorsett on December 03, 2017:
pain in neck & shoulders over 3 months , can't sleep nor do anything. sit with heating pad & pain pills waiting for MIR to fine the reason . pain is going down arms now. Have cracking noise in neck what is this ? this site was helpful thanks
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on August 21, 2017:
Turning out the shoulder helps place it correctly by the side instead of in front of the body. Do the exercise at least once a day. Try to keep the shoulders placed correctly on a permanent basis. Soon, with practice, the new correct shoulder position will feel natural and comfortable.
Johno on August 21, 2017:
Great post thanks! I find the shoulder alignment excercise the most interesting. As I can really feel and see the difference it makes when doing the excercise pulls my right shoulder back to beside me, rather than infront where it normally sits.
My question is how do I follow up this excercise? It takes quite a bit of effort and focus to hold my shoulder in this retracted position and doesn't feel particularly natural at all. Should I be holding this position for a period of time each time I do the exercise, working my way up?
Any insight would be great, thanks!
carolyn on April 02, 2017:
Really great post. I'm a hairdresser and i've been suffering from neck and shoulder pain very frequently, and now suffering headache. Will try excersise
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on November 25, 2016:
Unfortunately I cannot tell if you are doing the exercises wrong as I cannot see how you do them. If there is no cracking, that's probably a good thing. It can mean one of two things:
1.) Your neck may not be as stiff as you thought.
2.) You are not moving deeply enough into the movement.
If you get light headed doing neck rolls, do them very slowly and breathe deeply into the movement.
Generally, for each single move:
1.) Take a deep in-breath.
2.) Move slowly
3.) Try to reach maximum possible movement range (as far as it goes).
4.) Relax into gravity at the end of each given move
5.) With a deep outbreath.
Gna on November 25, 2016:
Am I doing the neck exercises wrong? I have no creaking and I get light headed during the neck rolls.
ePetNation from Maryland on April 07, 2016:
Loved this. Great information. Thank you
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on March 20, 2016:
Hi, Endless Traveler,
Sorry for late reply. Yes, of course you are welcome to ad a link and thank you for sharing.
Fernanda on March 19, 2016:
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on February 01, 2016:
I suggest gently following the videos in this article. To make it easier on the neck, once you know what to do, perform the same moves in an upside down position. Be slow,patient and gentle. Breathe deeply, and just allow gravity to straighten your neck out all by itself.
Sam Shepards from Europe on January 18, 2016:
Excellent article. Sitting behind a desk and computer screen all day I can use this information.
Judy Specht from California on December 21, 2015:
Excellent hub. Delighted to have found it. I avoided PT for my shoulder this morning because of the weather. Your exercised helped a lot.
Would you mind if I link this to a hub I am writing on Posture?
Rachael Lefler from Illinois on December 21, 2015:
Those were some helpful exercises, thanks!
The Reminder from Canada on December 02, 2015:
Very good info!
Val Karas from Canada on December 02, 2015:
Great hub, Sue, very helpful. informative, and well illustrated. What do you say about negative emotional states being the main culprit behind bad posture? People tend to physically cave in as a part of their defence mechanism. To walk and sit straight takes a person who can emotionally afford to "look the world in the eye".
Apoorva Rao on November 04, 2015:
very informative !!
Maree Michael Martin from Northwest Washington on an Island on November 02, 2015:
Easy to do exercises while I am sitting here reading this, thank you!
Great information to remind us to keep our best posture in good shape if we can.
Linda Robinson from Cicero, New York on October 08, 2015:
Hello Juliette an extremely fascinating interesting and informative hub. The information and details were exceptional, nice meeting you. I am happy to be following you. Linda
Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on October 03, 2015:
Great hub Sue. Very useful and interesting to know what to do for neck pain and stiff necks.
OGOCHUKWU from NIGERIA on September 22, 2015:
It is a very educative write up. Thanks for the information.
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on March 01, 2015:
Now is the time to do something about it, Jennifer.
Jennifer-Louise from Nottingham on February 28, 2015:
Very useful article and appropriate as I have awful neck pain at the moment. Thank you! :)
Gail Sport on January 30, 2015:
This article is very interesting. Has great information.
UndercoverAgent19 on January 29, 2015:
Awesome and very helpful hub! I've had back and neck problems since I was a child, and reading your hub has brought to my attention the fact that I am only worsening the pain and discomfort by my bad posture. I look forward to trying out some of your exercises and tips.
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on January 08, 2015:
It looks from the little typos in your post that you may need to have yours eyes checked. Bad eyesight when typing is a strain on the eyes and the whole way you hold your head, too far forward with tightly lifted shoulders. Pay careful attention to your posture at all times, not just when doing the exercises.
As for getting a Gravity Inversion Table, just click on the Amazon capsule in the article above to get one delivered right to your doorstep.
You can and will feel better.
zile on January 08, 2015:
I had severe neck pain n its all about bad posture after seeing your article i trt to improve it but i feel v much pain wgen i do it . I quit my job 2 years ago as unable to sit n work on desk ...i hope my condition improve i do all exercise wgich u mention by physical thearapist ..done traction too but not that gravity table dont know whether its available here or not ..
Malik humza from multan, Pakistan on December 31, 2014:
This was my biggest problem. Whenever i used my laptop and after using too much i can even turn my neck but these are really nice tips :(
Eslam yosef from Egypt on December 18, 2014:
Amazing hub :),
the 45 th hub follower,
Ale G from Houston on December 18, 2014:
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on December 06, 2014:
Don't be afraid of the little creaky noises Carol. They are comparable to the sound of a creaky old door that needs some oil to get its hinges moving again. In this case, movement, which boosts circulation, i.e. more blood supply towards the joints, plays the same role as the oil on the door hinges. Just keep moving gently and the noises will soon go away and so will the pain.
Carol Houle from Montreal on December 06, 2014:
My little neck noises don't go away, but I will practice yes, no, maybe. I was afraid of doing neck exercises "because" of the noises.
Michael Higgins from Michigan on December 06, 2014:
Excellent hub! Thumbs up! Very useful info.
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on December 05, 2014:
Yes Bev, rotating shoulders in circles can help loosen the muscles in the neck too, provided you allow the shoulders to fully relax on the way down because lifting the shoulders (during the rotation) tenses up the neck muscles. But I agree, any motion is beneficial.
As for the ringing in your ear, try circling the jaw in all possible directions, a bit like chewing like a cow :) with your mouth open. You will find many little creaky sounds doing that too, and the ringing will stop.
In the end it's all a question of getting the affected parts moving loosely, thereby boosting circulation, i.e. plenty of blood supply to awaken dormant body parts.
Bev on December 05, 2014:
I also found rotating shoulders in circles helped loosen the muscles in the neck. I felt so much better after that, physically &mentally. While doing the head exercises, I felt the muscle behind my ear pull. I'm hoping continued exercises will get rid of the ringing in that ear too. I have lots of creeky sounds in my neck that needs worked out. I had a cervical discectomy with fusion in 1998 after a car accident. You explained the neck positioning very well.
Novascotiamiss from Nova Scotia, Canada on November 24, 2014:
Tasha, Walnuts contain Selenium as well but in much lower doses. E.g. 28 grams of Brazilnuts (approx. 6 nuts) cover 767% of your daily selenium intake, that's why you should only eat one of these nuts per day. In comparison 28 grams of Walnuts cover only 7% of your selenium, therefore you would have to eat them by the handful. I got this nutritional information from an interesting blog called healthaliciousness (you may want to check it out yourself). Another sign of selenium deficiency are white spots on the fingernails (mine have disappeared since I started eating this valuable nut.
Natasha Pelati from South Africa on November 24, 2014:
Thank you just what I needed after two days of neck and back pain!
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on November 23, 2014:
Thank you for that info Scottie. Does it have to be a Brazil nut? Being a vegetarian, I eat walnuts almost daily.
Novascotiamiss from Nova Scotia, Canada on November 23, 2014:
Thanks for an excellent article that explains it all. By the way, I also have a little secret to share. I read in a health magazine that many people suffer from pain due to a selenium deficiency. A good way to get your daily dose of selenium is to eat 1 brazil nut a day. Sounds too easy to be true but I tried it out and it definitely worked on me!!! I had been suffering from lower back pain for months and within 10 days of eating the nuts my symptoms just about disappeared. Warning: Only eat 1 brazil nut per day as too much selenium is not good for you.
Keshabrown from Baltimore, MD on November 22, 2014:
Thanks so much for this!!! I really need this. I'm at a computer all day and keep all my stress in my neck. Perfect timing!
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on November 20, 2014:
You are so right Easy Exercise. The power of our own muscles plus a means of combating the excessive downward pressure of gravity are the key to healing pain. Any pain caused by poor movement habits and consistent bad posture can be cured with gentle, adequate remedial exercise with a sense of self-responsible body awareness .
Kelly A Burnett from United States on November 20, 2014:
Outstanding! I have battled my neck muscles and I am winning! I have strengthened the muscles and find with proper posture and exercise I have been able to avoid surgery. The neck walk video is fascinating. I am not yet game to try it even my medical history. I love the beginning with the stretch.
I believe strongly in our muscles have the power to heal.
Great hub! Voted up!
Snakesmum on November 19, 2014:
Useful article, thanks. I am already doing some of the exercises mentioned here, and will add more as the neck improves.
RAJESH CHANDRA PANDEY from India on November 18, 2014:
Very informative and helpful article. Thanks Sue.
Caitlyn Ramos from Albany, New York on November 18, 2014:
Thank you so much for this! For months now I have had a bad neck and shoulders, I've never been able to crack my neck or any muscle but now it cracks all the time! I hope with time this will help.
Hezekiah from Japan on November 18, 2014:
Thanks a lot for the tips, I suffer from stiff neck a lot when I wake up in the mornings. Maybe due to bad sleeping posture.
ezzly on November 18, 2014:
excellent thank you for this article, ive been told i have a straight neck which "knocks my back out". Ill have to get some props for the floor!
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on November 17, 2014:
Despite all the treatments you've had, I still believe that retaining as much mobility as possible will help you. Gravity Inversion facilitates mobility because the gentle traction increases distance between vertebrae. In view of this, yes, I do recommend it, even for your condition. But go gently, slowly.
Amanda Y Stone from Abbeville, South Carolina on November 17, 2014:
I have chronic back and neck pain due to degenerative disk disease. I have had 3 surgeries on my lower back with fusion the last time. I have had 1 neck surgery with a playe and screws put in. I'm trying these exercises and was wondering if you think it would be safe for me to have an inversion table. I really want to try that. Thank you for this wonderful information. Its more than o have ever gotten from Dr's or therapist. . Love it. Thanks for taking time to read our comments.
tiffany baker on November 16, 2014:
from my experience it is caused from toxic build up..a good coffee enema will eliminate all back pain.....
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on November 09, 2014:
I recommend daily use of a Gravity Inversion Table as described above to relieve downward pressure on your vertebrae.
Dale on November 08, 2014:
I have a bulging disc and bone spur. What exercises would you recommend.
Randall Guinn from Pinellas Park, Florida on November 05, 2014:
Thank you Sue. I will give it a try.
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on November 05, 2014:
I would recommend the first one on this page, the Pronex Pneumatic Cervical Traction Device. My brother who had chronic neck pain for years has been using one daily for a few weeks now. His condition has improved enormously. He no longer has the related head-aches associated with chronic stiff neck cramps and has already been able to go back to work.
Randall Guinn from Pinellas Park, Florida on October 23, 2014:
Hi, out of the two cervical traction devices you have listed, is there one that you would recommend above the other? Would wearing a neck support afterward help, or hurt?
Sharon Kinman from My Cabin in the Woods on October 19, 2014:
I enjoyed your article very much! I am a Fibromyalgia patient and I am always looking for more information that can help soothe my painful muscles. Than you!
Eileen from Western Cape , South Africa on October 15, 2014:
Thanks for a very interesting hub . I've picked up so many tips reading all the comments of readers . Suffering from a rotator cuff injury some of these ideas will certainly bring relief especially the stretching excercises which i'm already doing !
Randall Guinn from Pinellas Park, Florida on October 10, 2014:
A great article. Thanks!
Melody Lassalle from California on October 10, 2014:
I have arthritis through my body. It affects my neck and shoulders, too. I found this article insightful. I'm going to start by adding the yes, no, maybe exercises to my range of motion daily routine. Thank you for the helpful information!
Carpe Diem from Philippines on October 05, 2014:
Wow. This is so helpful. Bye bye stiff neck.
rls8994 from Mississippi on September 30, 2014:
Seems like my neck and shoulders are always sore and stiff. I had surgery in 2012 on my lumbar region for spinal stenosis with facets synovial cysts. I'm just wondering now if I might have another problem with my back since I seem to be sore and stiff in my neck so much. I will definitely try these exercises though. Maybe they will help :)
Lissa on September 24, 2014:
Have suffered severe, chronic neck, back and hip pain for over 40 years. My daughter bought me a Teeter inversion table which I would fight to the death to keep now. And a number of years ago picked up a professional quality ultrasonic massage machine which helps warm and loosen muscles. And I love that just as much.
Had my left hip replaced about 8 years ago which straightened my entire torso and helped lengthened the leg just a tiny bit. The wear pattern on my shoes told a horrid story of how twisted and off-center my body really was. All the equipment and exercise in the world will not repair some problems. If your shoes tell a sad story, then please do see a doctor. It took 10 years for me to find a doctor that finally believed my tale of pain once I showed him my shoes!
If you're not suffering like me, then please do these exercises, and find a way to buy the inversion table, a good quality ultrasound massager, and a supportive mattress. Patience and persistence are a must, but well worth the results.
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on September 22, 2014:
1. Get into a warm bath and do some slow under water neck rolls.
2. Refrain from sitting at the computer for a few days.
3. Always support the head when watching TV or relaxing.
4. Spend more time in the horizontal position.
Kelly on September 22, 2014:
Severe pain and stiff neck, can barely roll over or get up from bed. Cannot do the exercises . Looks like I have a swollen hump between shoulders and right under head. 4 days into this. Very sore, sorry for being short, in lots of pain with crunching in neck. Help :(
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on September 22, 2014:
You are so right Penny, nothing to lose. Remember my moto: "No Pain, Just Gain!"
Penny Godfirnon from Southern Iowa on September 19, 2014:
Just what I needed. I an anxious to try some of these things right away. I have everything to gain and nothing to loose.
Snakesmum on September 13, 2014:
The neck exercises you suggest are those I do to relieve a stiff neck. I'm coming back to read this article again to remind myself to take more care of the body! Thanks.
Jenn Dixon from PA on September 09, 2014:
Great info! I go to the chiropractor intermittently for my neck pain, but I'm glad to find these exercises!
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on August 28, 2014:
You are welcome Abby. Hope your neck and shoulders get better with these tips and exercises.
Dr Abby Campbell from Charlotte, North Carolina on August 28, 2014:
Awesome and very informative hub, Sue. Thanks for sharing. It is going to be very helpful for me while I have some neck and shoulder issues. Have a wonderful weekend!
Donna Cook on August 28, 2014:
Very helpfult Hub! Mom's advice to stand up and sit up straight still works.
Kawika Chann from Northwest, Hawaii, Anykine place on August 17, 2014:
always love a good stretch! Awesome hub. Peace. Kawi
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on August 17, 2014:
Have a look at my hub on "Hanging Upside Down - Cure and Prevent Back Pain - Benefits of Gravity Inversion" Raduz.
Raduz on August 17, 2014:
I have a problem with back pain between T1 and T2. Recently I have had accident, felt strong crack between T1 and T2 at work and later I had the chills. . X-ray is good but I have to go to for MRI. How can I treat it at home? I exercise regularly fitness, aikido and wing chun, stretching. my email is email@example.com
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on July 23, 2014:
Why not just bookmark this article ? Just select its URL (the bit at the top of this page up to "stiff-neck", excluding #...) and drag it to your toolbar so you can come back to it at any time.
joyce on July 23, 2014:
Would you e-mail these exercises to me at firstname.lastname@example.org? They will help me. I'm 70 yrs young.
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on July 19, 2014:
@ Hezekiah, yes, watch how you sleep. Try falling asleep while doing a deep relaxation / meditation on your back. And when you catch yourself tightly curved up on your side, with hunched up shoulders, try to unlearn the habit by going back to the supine meditation position. b.t.w. you'll get fewer wrinkles that way too.
@ erorantes & Muriel,
Thank you for the read, always glad to be of help.
Muriel Pilon on July 19, 2014:
Thank you! You are awesome!!
I would LOVE to sign up with you!
Ana Maria Orantes from Miami Florida on June 16, 2014:
Thank you miss sue adams. You are a wonderful person for caring about other people's pain. I like your hub . I am going to use your advice.
Kathleen Odenthal from Bridgewater on June 16, 2014:
Fantastic hub Sue! I struggle with terrible neck pain and issues with my sciatic nerve. Shared and voted thumbs up!
Hezekiah from Japan on June 16, 2014:
Very good tips there, I have been waking up with an awfully stiff neck around once per week over the last few months. I guess the pillow is one of these reasons.
Linda Crist from Central Virginia on June 16, 2014:
Sue, thank you so much for the suggestion. I've been battling this for almost a year. It started as "stress" when I moved my parents into assisted living. I will try the tennis ball. Thank you!
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on June 16, 2014:
Frozen shoulder? Try this:
Put a tennis ball into a sock and lean the sore part of your shoulder into it while breathing the pain away. You can lean against a wall or on the floor for more pressure.
Linda Crist from Central Virginia on June 16, 2014:
Great hub. Well written with terrific illustrations and easy to follow guidelines. I will be giving the exercises a try for this stubborn frozen shoulder of mine. Thank you! Voted up, awesome, useful.
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on June 02, 2014:
Well done! The trick is to be aware of your body without falling into the big pharma trap.
ekelly on June 01, 2014:
I've been doing the arm circles, the Yes, No, Maybe excercises, paying attention to my posture and head & shoulder position and I've been Excedrin-free for a day and a half! I was taking 4 a day for years..waking up with a headache every single day. I can't believe something this simple is all it took! Thank you :)
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on May 30, 2014:
Keep your neck mobile Ekelly and stop taking pills. My previous reply about doing neck exercises under water may help you too. Remember: move it or lose it.
ekelly on May 29, 2014:
I experience occasional tingling (pins & needles) and numbness in my big toes. I feel something like a dull ache in the middle right side of my back all the time, just above my right hip (maybe because my right leg is an inch longer than my left?)I also have a chronic headache problem and I'm getting tired of taking Excedrin all the time and I don't want to go to a chiropractor.
bizg from USA on May 03, 2014:
Great article.. I have been having neck problems and even got x-ray done. The chiropractor suggested that due to the fact my neck is slightly tilting downwards and due to that in future I might get a hunched back.I was told to do the therapy but I was cautioned by many people not go o the chiropractor.So now my pain is still there.. and what kind of pillow do you suggest?
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on April 13, 2014:
Wow! That is unusual Paula. How does it affect you? Feeling stiff? I think certain yoga moves may help supple up your bones. Talk to a good yoga teacher I would.
MPaula on April 13, 2014:
My problem is an UNDER curvature at both cervical and thoracic areas. Any suggestions for that?
Johan Smulders from East London, South Africa on March 23, 2014:
Need to try some of these exercises. Thanks for the article.
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on March 23, 2014:
If the pain travels down all the way to your hands it is quite likely that a nerve is trapped somewhere along the line. Do you get pins and needles in the fingers and part of the hands? This is sometimes caused by the "funny bone", the area behind the elbow, constantly resting on a hard desk. Place soft padding there. Try changing the position you work at the computer. Frequently get up and move by following some of the above exercises.
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on March 23, 2014:
Poor you, 4 years of TMJ! Must try and relax your jaw, stop clenching teeth and re-align the jaw bone. If that doesn't work maybe go see an acupuncturist?
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on March 22, 2014:
Have you tried a horizontal neck traction device for your Chiari condition? Also I would recommend spending much more time in a supported a horizontal position (as shown in drawing) to keep the weight of your head off your spine, and possibly using gravity inversion as well to let it all hang back up as it were. Let us hope your cerebrum will climb back to its place with your special attention.
tas on March 22, 2014:
Hi, thank you for the info. I will definitely try the neck exercises out. My neck and shoulders pain travels right down my both hands. I have been too the physio but no luck. Any suggestions for me please.
Tippy on March 22, 2014:
My chronic neck and shoulder pain is from my TMJ- With TMJ your jaw is not aligned properly although may not be noticeable- when it is out of alignment- it throws everything off- neck shoulders. Dentists told me I had TMJ many years ago but didn't really explain it and it did not start bothering me until the last 4 years.
stacialspaugh on March 22, 2014:
I have Arnold's chiari malformation ,I have had decompression surgery wit c1 c2 out in my neck . My brain sits in my neck. So it's hard to look up and raise arms up over my head . I still have headaches and stiff neck shoulder pain.