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Neck stretch to relieve back pain

Updated: Nov 10, 2021

The suboccipital muscles could be preventing your ability to fully flex your neck. If you are unable to put your chin on your chest, this muscle might be to blame. Learn how to stretch it to permanently free up your neck and ease back pain.

Muscle anatomy

The suboccipitals are a group of muscles right under the base of the skull. They run from the top two cervical vertebrae and attach to the base of the skull. These muscles bend the head backward, stabilize the head, and make fine adjustments to the head’s movements. To make the muscle more receptive to stretching, you should release it first. Go here to learn how.

Forward head caused by poor posture causes these muscles to work statically to direct your gaze forward instead of at the ground. The result is shortened muscles.

Tightness symptoms

  • Difficulty putting your chin on your chest

  • Headache at the bottom of the skull or at the top of the head

Benefits of stretching

Stretching helps our bodies in several different ways:

  • It keeps the muscles flexible, strong and healthy

  • It helps to maintain a range of motion in the joints

  • Without flexibility, the muscles become short and tight

  • Tight muscles are weak and unable to extend all the way causing pain

  • Flexible muscles need less energy to maintain their position

Flexibility test

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent.

  • Put one of your hands behind your neck and try to push your neck toward the floor.

  • You should be able to push your neck against your hand.

If you cannot touch the back of your hand, it’s time to stretch it.

Stretch it

This exercise can be done either sitting down or lying on your back with your knees bent.

  1. Interlace your fingers and place your hands at the base of your skull.

  2. Use your thumbs to push on the muscles right below the base of the skull.

  3. Keeping your head level, stretch the muscles by slowly pushing your head forward and hold 10 seconds.

  4. Without moving, push your head into your hands and hold 5 seconds.

  5. Relax the contraction and deepen the stretch by pushing your head further forward and hold 10 seconds.

  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5.

  7. Slowly return to an upright position.

This stretch can be done several times a day. If you suffer from pain in the neck or upper back you may suffer from weak middle back muscles. The Hands-Free Middle Back Strengthener works the muscles between the shoulder blades to keep your shoulders aligned and the pain out of your neck and it only takes 2 minutes a day! Get yours here


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