The holidays can be hard on your neck: having more on your “to-do” list, walking on hard mall surfaces, long lines, more time in the car, traveling long distances, and sleeping in unfamiliar beds all contribute. Whether you slept in a funky position last night, you’re on the road traveling to your holiday destination, or you’re just worn out from all the “doing,”—take a long, hot shower and then try these six feel-good neck stretches for a little instant relief:
1. Standing Wall Stretch
Too much sitting down in a car, plane or at your desk leaves you hunched forward and tight—grab the nearest wall and stand a few feet away from the wall, place your hands on the wall in line with your hips and walk your body back into an L-shape. From there, press your palms into the wall and slowly lower your chest and belly toward the floor.
2. Chin Retractions
We love this stretch for when you’ve been holding your neck in the same position for extended periods. It might look a little strange, but it works! Simply keep your chin parallel to the floor (in other words: not at an angle) and move your chin away from your body, then slowly pull it back toward your throat. Yes, you’ll look a bit like a pigeon after you’ve done your ten repetitions so feel free to do this in private if you want to!
3. The Classic Bridge
If you have a bit more room then this classic yoga stretch will allow you to control how much you want to feel a stretch at the back of your neck (depending on how high you lift your hips). Lie flat on your back with your arms along the sides of your body, bend your knees and place feet flat and hip-width distance apart on the floor (as close to your bottom as comfortable). Slowly lift your hips off the floor with palms and feet pressing firmly into the ground.
4. The Open Chest Stretch
Stretch the front of your neck and the muscles between your shoulder blades by sitting or standing up straight, clasp your hands behind your head at the base of your skull, very slowly tip back your head using your hands for support, bend your back very slightly, and point your elbows towards the ground.
5. Seated or Standing Clasping Neck Stretch
This versatile stretch can be done anywhere, anytime and will provide you with a deep stretch in the sides of your neck. Standing or sitting with both arms by your side, reach both hands behind your buttocks and hold onto your left wrist with your right hand. Gently use your right hand to straighten your left arm and pull it downwards. For a deeper stretch, slowly lower your right ear to your shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds and then switch sides.
6. The Owl Neck
This gentle stretch targets the sides of your neck. Sit upright with your spine straight, chest open, shoulders relaxed, and neck centered in a neutral position. Slowly turn your head to the right side until your chin is over the shoulder and parallel to the floor. Hold here, then tip your chin down toward your shoulder. Apply gentle pressure with your hand to the back of your head to increase the stretch. To feel a deeper stretch, you can hold onto your right knee or the seat of the chair.