5 Easy and Effective Stretches for Neck Pain

Generally, research does not support the effectiveness of stretching exercises for pain.  However, the neck is a bit of an exception.  When it comes to neck pain, there is...

Mechanical-Neck-Pain1Generally, research does not support the effectiveness of stretching exercises for pain.  However, the neck is a bit of an exception.  When it comes to neck pain, there is some high quality research (randomized controlled trials) to support stretching as an intervention (1).

In one study, stretching as part of a home program 5 times per week improved pain equally as well as osteopathic doctor mobilization with massage twice per week (2).  

This opened my eyes a bit as a clinician and has brought me back to stretching for those with neck pain.  I’ve made a video of a few easy stretching exercises given to my patients as a home exercise program after the initial evaluation.

Of course a few basic stretches in no way replaces a full evaluation by a knowledgeable professional but these stretches are an easy way to give your patients some relief on their own that might actually end up decreasing their pain as much as mobilization would.   Feel free to send this video to your patients or try it yourself then let me know what you think!

And no, I don’t have normal range of motion in my neck, not by a long shot,

Dan Pope, PT, DPT, CSCS

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  1. Childs, J. D., Cleland, J. A., Elliot, J. M., & Wainner, R. S. (2008). Neck pain: Clinical practice guidelines linked to the international classification of functioning, disability, and health from the orthopaedic section of the american physical therapy association . JOSPT38(9), A1-A35. Retrieved from https://www.orthopt.org/ICF/Neck Pain Clinical Guideline – JOSPT – Sept 2008.pdf
  2. Ylinen, J., Kautiainen, H., Wiren, K., & Hakkinen, A. (2007). Stretching exercises vs manual therapy in treatment of chronic neck pain: A randomized, controlled cross-over trial. J Rehabil Med39, 126-132.


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4 Comments on this post.
  • Pittsburgh Chiropractor
    12 November 2013 at 10:26
    Leave a Reply

    Great information! One of, if not THE most important aspect of stretching one’s neck is to do so in a slow and controlled manner. I’ve seen a video of a body builder collapsing from “stretching his neck” freestyle. Instead, he ended up cracking it. Proper stretching can’t be stressed enough. Especially when it comes to the neck. I’m going to share your video with my patients who suffer from stiff necks or limited mobility. Thanks for sharing!

    • djpope
      18 November 2013 at 10:26
      Leave a Reply

      Thank you sir! Good points.

  • Deanna R. Jones
    25 March 2015 at 10:26
    Leave a Reply

    Thanks for the tips! My neck has been feeling unusually tense lately. I didn’t know that doing neck stretches is as effective as going to see an osteopathic doctor for mobilization therapy twice a week. It’s good to know about different stretches that will help to loosen up the muscles in my neck.

    • djpope
      14 June 2015 at 10:26
      Leave a Reply

      No problem. Again, that was just one study. Everyone is going to require a different treatment plan but stretching can be a good part of it.

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