Having trouble turning your head when driving? Do this stretch.

The levator scapulae are muscles in the neck that help in rotation. When they are tight, it can be painful to turn your head. Learn how to stretch it here.


Muscle motion


The levator scapulae helps in:

  • Cervical rotation – ability to turn the head

  • Cervical tilting – ability to tilt head to side

  • Shoulder elevation – ability to shrug shoulders

  • Neck extension – bending the head backwards

Common traffic scenarios that are affected by tight levator scapulae muscles:

  • Turning your head to look behind you when changing lanes - it's important that you be able to do this with a good range of motion to avoid accidents.

  • The ability to look both ways before crossing the street.

  • Checking your surroundings before backing out of a parking spot requires your neck to be supple.

When any one of these movements is hard to do or is painful, the muscle needs to be stretched. Fortunately, there is a great stretch which addresses all the above movements. It turns the head in the opposite direction, tilts it in the opposite direction, keeps the opposite shoulder depressed and flexes the neck.


Stretch it out

  1. Sit on a chair with your back and abs slightly tightened. Reach behind you with your right hand and grab the edge of the chair. Lean your upper body to the left, keeping your head upright until you feel a light pull in your right shoulder or upper arm.

  2. Now try to lift your right shoulder toward the ceiling for five seconds. Do not allow your body to move sideways. Relax for a couple of seconds and then lean your upper body a little more to the side. This is the correct starting point for the stretch.

  3. Rotate your head 45 degrees to the left and place your left hand over the top of your head and gently let the weight of your hand pull your head at an angle toward your left hip and hold for 10 seconds.

  4. Resist by carefully pushing the back of your head into your hand for 5 seconds.

  5. Relax the contraction and gently stretch the muscle for 10 seconds.

  6. Resist by carefully pushing the back of your head into your hand for 5 seconds.

  7. Relax the contraction and gently stretch the muscle for 10 seconds.

  8. Slowly raise head to starting position.

If you experience pain or stiffness on one side of the neck, the stretch only needs to be done on the opposite side. However, stretching both sides will be beneficial to overall neck health.



After the stretch, your neck should not only be less painful, but there should also be an increased range of motion. This stretch should be done everyday for a more flexible neck and better driving experience. Enjoy!




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