Neck Exercise

Neck exercises are important for reaching recovery after a neck injury. There are many different ways to strengthen the neck. The most important thing after an injury is to not overdo it. You can hurt your neck even worse if you do too much too fast.

The neck exercises shown here will help you to start off right. They are low impact and can be a great stepping stone to more advanced movements. These are some of the first exercises I give patients with a neck injury. The goal is for them to be simple. They will test your neck with key motions. Try them. Work slow. If these exercises make you sore, make an appointment with your chiropractor.
The first key to success is starting correctly. These exercises will be performed from a neutral starting posture. This requires you to sit up tall. Place your head centered with your ears over your shoulders. Your chin will be level to the ground. Look straight forward. Simple as that, you are ready to start. 

Pain-free Range of Motion

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Low impact neck exercises mean that it is going to avoid causing any further injury. This neck exercise is the pain-free range of motion. You will intentionally move your neck into each motion. Do not push through the pain. Soreness is ok, this means it is tolerable. Sharp pains will mean that neck muscles are severely damaged. The motions start from the neutral neck posture mentioned above. Flexion, extension, rotation left and right, and lateral flexion both ways will test the muscles. It provides healthy motion for the muscles to keep healing.

Perform each direction 5 to 10 times. Do this every day. Do not do so many your neck becomes sore. When muscles have been damaged, a light motion will help them repair.

If less than 5 reps caused pain, the muscle damage is severe. Seek help from your chiropractor, doctor, or physical therapist.

Isometric Muscle Contraction

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The next low impact neck exercise is an isometric contraction. Do this exercise from the same neutral starting posture. Place a hand with resistance against the head. The muscle then contracts to counteract the resistance. This form of exercises is done to engage the muscle without moving the muscle position. Press against the head at the front, back, and each side. The pressure should not be hard enough to cause pain, be gentle. Push hard enough that you feel the neck muscle contract.
Perform this exercise 5 to 10 times. Do this every day. Your neck should not be painful after this. If it is painful, you are not ready for this exercise yet. Go back to the pain-free range of motion again for 3 more days. Then try this again.

Neck Flexion Exercise

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The neck flexion exercise is more advanced and adds in the weight of the head. You want to become efficient with the less aggressive exercise before trying the one. The exercise is done in a few steps. First, lay on your back. Second, tuck your chin slightly. Third, lift the head up off the floor slowly. The head lift is only about one inch from the floor. It is a small motion, but it does nice work engaging the neck flexion muscle.

Perform this exercise 5 to 10 times. Do this every day. Watch for shaking in the neck and head. shaking means these muscles are weak. Only perform two more holds after the neck becomes shaky. More can overwork the muscles. It will take time to build up the neck muscles again after an injury.

Neck Extension Exercise

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Neck extension exercises are the most aggressive exercise listed here. This exercise is still low impact, gentle, and safe. Make sure you feel confident in the other exercises before trying this one. The exercise is performed from laying on the stomach with the nose towards the floor. Place both hands in front of you and on the floor. With the chin slightly tucked lift the head from the floor. You will raise the head about 2 to 3 inches from the floor.
Perform this exercise 5 to 10 times. Do this every day. Do not do this to the point of pain. Rest a day between if it makes you sore.
With all of these exercises be careful. Overdoing exercise work can hurt the injured muscle more. If you find you are getting pain with these exercises, STOP. You may have more damaged tissue than you expect. You may need other therapies or more ideas on how to rest, heal, and exercise in a safe and efficient way.

Here at Cascade Chiropractic and Wellness specialize in neck care. We pride ourselves in being at the forefront of care options. Our goal is to provide gentle, effective, and comfortable care with lasting results. If you are struggling with neck pain or the recovery process check-in for a consultation (503) 257-1324 or make an appointment with our doctors.