6 Techniques to Reduce Neck Pain While Traveling

By: Dr. Cindy Kimmi Dao, PT, DPT, CSCS

1. Upper Trapezius Muscle Stretch

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  1. To stretch your left upper trapezius muscle, side bend your head to the right.

  2. Place your left hand behind your back and your right hand over your head.

  3. Carefully and gently pull your neck to the right until you feel a stretch on your left upper trapezius. It should not be painful!

  4. Hold the stretch and do the opposite to stretch your right upper trapezius muscle.

  5. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times, alternating sides.

 

2. Levator Scapula Muscle Stretch

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  1. To stretch your left levator scapula muscle, side bend your head to the right. Then rotate your head to the right. You are basically looking at your right armpit!

  2. Place your left hand behind your back and your right hand over your head.

  3. Carefully and gently pull your neck to the right until you feel a stretch on your left levator scapula muscle. It should not be painful!

  4. Make sure to stretch your left levator scapula muscle by doing the opposite as described above.

  5. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times, alternating sides.

 

3. Sub-occipital Muscle Stretch

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  1. To stretch your suboccipital muscles place both of your hands on the back of the top portion of your head.

  2. Push the top of your head down and forward. Your chin should be tucked into the front of your neck.

  3. You should feel a pull at the back of your neck near the base of your skull.


4. Cervical SNAGS (Sustained Natural Apophyseal Glides)

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 1. Grab a towel and fold it several times.

2. Hook the towel behind your neck on the portion of your neck that feels stiff.

3. Cross your arms and grab the corners of the towel.

4. If you are trying to mobilize the left side of your neck, with your right hand pull the towel towards your right eye. As a result, you will be mobilizing the left aspect of your cervical spine.

5. Repeat this 10-20 times. Switch sides and repeat to the right side.

 Side Note: The cervical spine consists of 7 vertebrae and 8 joints (junction between two bones) starting above cervical vertebrae 1 to below cervical vertebrae 7. This mobilization exercise is a general mobilization so it is difficult to mobilize specific cervical joints. Instead just focus on placing the towel on different parts of your neck (upper, middle, or lower) that need mobility.

*** This exercise should not be used in place of treatment or advice from your primary physician or medical doctor. Before doing this exercise, seek the advice of your primary physician for further evaluation.

 

5. Pectoralis Major Release

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 1. Place the ball on your chest and roll along the muscle fibers for a minute or two. You will be sore at first and may even lead to you being sore the day after.

 

6. Upper Trapezius Release

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1. Place the ball along the upper trapezius.

2. Roll it out or keep it on a spot that feels tight. Do this for about 1 to 2 minutes on each side.