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Achieve Brain & Spine in Santa Monica provides a wide range of treatments for neck pain. The heart of any continuing care for your neck is to exercise the muscles and maintain good posture throughout the day. Exercise prevents muscle stiffness and weakness and can be of great help in alleviating chronic pain and preventing a condition from worsening.

Spinal Health Guide

Specialized exercises for spinal physical therapy

Patient Exercises
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Exercise best practices

  • Only perform neck exercises recommended our doctors or support team.
  • Maintain normal breathing during exercises.
  • Take a moment to consciously relax your body before you begin. Tense muscles work against the exercises.
  • Don’t force it! Be gentle but firm.
  • Stop if you feel dizzy or pain increases. If this persists, contact us.
Patient Exercises

Flexion

  • Gently drop your head forward, chin toward chest. Go as far as you can comfortably.
  • Hold the position for a few moments as you feel the stretch, then return your head to upright position.
  • Repeat this as many times as feels comfortable.
Patient Exercises

Extension

  • Slowly tilt your head backward. You may want to be sitting for this, so you don’t lose your balance. Just go back as far as it is easy to do.
  • Hold the position for a few moments. Allow your muscles to stretch.
  • Return to upright position.
  • Repeat as many times as you did for the flexion exercise.
Patient Exercises

Rotation

  • Face ahead. Slowly turn your head to the right as far as you can comfortably.
  • Hold until you can feel your muscles stretching.
  • Slowly return to face forward.
  • Do the same to your left.
  • Return to center.
  • Repeat until your neck feels looser, about 3-5 times each way.
Patient Exercises

Side bend

  • Keeping your head forward and your shoulders back, tilt your head toward your left shoulder and hold the position.
  • Return to center.
  • Do the same on the right.
  • Repeat until you feel the neck muscles stretch and loosen.

Chin glide

  • Holding head and neck straight, tuck your chin into your neck.
  • Now move your neck back so your ears go towards your shoulders.
  • Hold.
  • Return to start and rest for a second. Then repeat a few times.

Shoulder blade squeeze

  • Raise your arms so that your upper arms are below your shoulders and bend your elbows with your palms facing forward. It looks like the gesture “stop” but using both arms.
  • Slowing move your arms to your sides (back) and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  • Hold. Then return to original position and intentionally relax.
  • Repeat until you feel the area loosened and relaxed.

Forward head press

  • Softly press your palms against your forehead.
  • Push your head forward using your neck muscles. You are pushing against the pressure being exerted by your palms.
  • Hold for a moment, then relax.
  • Repeat several times.

Backward head press

  • This is the reverse of the forward head press.
  • Press your palms against the back of your head while pushing your head backward using your neck muscles.
  • Hold. Relax. Repeat.
Patient Exercises

Side head press

  • Press your right palm against the right side of your head and push against it with your neck muscles.
  • Hold. Relax. Repeat as many times as feels comfortable.
  • Now do the other side. Remember to give each side the same amount of effort and repetition.
Patient Exercises

Rotation head press

  • Press your left palm against the left side of your head.
  • Resist the force with your neck muscles while gently trying to turn your head to the left.
  • Maintain a balance on the two forces, so your head and your hand do not actually move.
  • Repeat several times.
  • Switch sides and do the same to your right.

Computers, chairs and beds

  • Set your computer monitor so it is level to your line of sight.
  • Practice proper posture and use a chair that can be adjusted to accommodate you.
  • Exercise daily. Lack of exercise can throw muscles out of balance and result in chronic neck pain.
  • Sleep with adequate neck support.
  • Using an exercise ball as a chair, a sit-stand desk, or treadmill desk if possible can help as well.

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