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Neck and Shoulder Tension Relief Exercises

We live in a rural area with lots of hard work, often resulting in tension. These exercises helped to relieve our neck and shoulder pain.

Effective Remedies for Neck and Shoulder Tension

During your day, you might find yourself craning your neck to read something, dropping your head forward to see under the hood of your car, or hunching over to dig for something in the closet.

These activities might seem inconsequential at the time, but they can cause tension in your neck and shoulders that builds up over time. In other words, even if you don’t notice it at first, all of these little things add up.

Before making an appointment with doctor or chiropractor, there are a couple of easy and effective remedies for neck and shoulder tension that have helped me and may help to ease your discomfort too. If you incorporate these exercises into your daily routine - you'll be feeling the benefits after only a few days.

Rolling and stretching that area of your body can help to relieve and very often get rid of this sometimes very painful condition of tension in the neck and shoulder area, as well as help with headaches and other aches and pains.

Rolling Neck Exercise to Stretch and Relieve Pain

Rolling Neck Exercise:

This exercise will loosen tension in the neck and shoulders as well as stretching the spine and adding flexibility and suppleness to the neck and upper shoulder area.


  1. Sit with straight back on a chair or stand upright with your feet a little apart and knees a little bent. Relax your shoulders in a way that you feel they are sinking down into the ground. Relax your body, keeping tummy in and back straight.
  2. Stretch your neck upward carefully and slowly while you sink your chin until it touches your chest - letting your jaw relax and hang loosely.
  3. Relax your shoulders at the same time try to hold them a little backward.
  4. Now turn your head carefully and slowly toward the right, keeping your chin down - until your nose is parallel with the middle of your right shoulder.
  5. While you hold this position - look over your shoulder as far as you can while you try to stretch your neck even more. Hold this position while you count to 5.
  6. Keeping your neck stretched as much as possible - now turn your head back to the center position where you started off as explained in #4.
  7. Now turn your head in the same way over to the left in a smooth, careful and slow movement - once your nose is parallel with the middle of your left shoulder, look over your shoulder as far as you can while you stretch your neck even more. Hold this position while you count to 5.
  8. Keeping your neck stretched - turn your head/chin back to the center position.


Dag 1: 2 times - Dag 2: 3 times - Dag 3: 4 times - Dag 4: 5 times

Remember not to make sudden, abrupt movements while doing this exercise as it can be damaging to your neck. Also its important that your shoulders and chin are relaxed. If you’re standing for this exercise remember not to lock your knees, but do keep your tummy in and your back straight.

Important note: These exercises are for informational purposes only. You use them at your own risk. We are not physicians, but are merely passing on tried methods of exercising that have worked for us and others. Please consult your physician before doing any kind of exercises.

Stretching Is Key to Relieving Neck and Shoulder Tension

Tight, contracted muscles usually hold a lot of excess tension and stress. The more you stretch those muscles and ease their tension, the more relaxed and comfortable you will feel. Stretching your shoulders and neck is an important way to release that tension and help your muscles relax so that you can feel better.

Neck Tension Stretching Exercise

This exercise can be done sitting or standing - whichever suits you best and feel most comfortable with. It will help loosen the muscles in the neck and shoulders. It stretches the spine, adding flexibility and suppleness to the joints and helping prevent tension in the neck and between the shoulder blades.


  1. Sit with straight back on a chair or stand upright with your feet a little apart and knees a little bent. Relax your shoulders and arms.
  2. Start by stretching your neck upward until you feel that you can’t stretch any further. At the same time relax your face and particularly your jaw. Close your eyes and try to imagine that your shoulders are sinking into the ground and that there’s an imaginary string attached to the ceiling that is pulling your head upward so that your neck is being stretched even more. Now try to put that image into practice - let your shoulders become heavy and sink, while your neck is stretching upward as much as you can.
  3. Now turn your head carefully and slowly toward the right until you feel it stretch. Hold the position for a few seconds.
  4. Turn your head now back to centre and face forward, stretching upward. Hold this position for a few seconds.
  5. Now turn your head carefully and slowly toward the left until you feel it stretch. Hold that position for a few seconds.
  6. Turn your head now carefully and slowly all the way over to the right in one movement - when your head is facing the right side - look over your right shoulder. (While doing this - make sure that your back is straight and shoulders are parallel with your feet).
  7. Now turn your head carefully and slowly all the way over to the right in one movement - when your head is facing the right side - look over your right shoulder.

1 through to 5 are the pre-exercise and warm up positions, while 6 and 7 are the movements of the exercise once the warm up has been done.

Remember not to lock your knees if you’ve chosen to stand for this exercise. Keep your neck and shoulders relaxed, with tummy in and back straight.


Day 1: 2 times - Day 2: 3 times - Day 4: 4 times -Day 5: 5 times and so on.

Fitness and Stretching Programs

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Feel Better Use a Massage Ball

A massage ball can be a helpful tool to ease muscle tension in your shoulders and neck.

- Place the massage ball in the palm of one hand. - Place the other hand on top of the massage ball.

- Use your hands to roll the massage ball back and forth over the tense muscles.

- You can also rotate your hands from side to side to apply deeper pressure to those muscles.

- Continue this process for two to five minutes.

- Repeat this process on the other side of your body.

- You can also use the massage ball to massage other areas of your body that are tense.

The massage ball can be a helpful tool to ease muscle tension in your shoulders and neck - great for massaging the head and neck in case of headaches or migraine.

Works Wonders for Headaches & General Aches and Pains


When you’re stressed, it may be easy to overlook your discomfort and focus more on the people and tasks around you. However, your well-being is just as important as everyone else’s. When you feel stressed, tightness in your shoulders and neck muscles may be one of the first signs of the strain that has built up in your body. While you can’t always control the factors that cause you to feel stressed, you can control how you respond to those factors. Relieving tension in your shoulders and neck can help you to better cope with the stressors in your life.

What's Your Experience with Neck and Shoulder Tension

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2007 Lucy Jones


Lucy Jones (author) from Scandinavia on June 05, 2013:

Pamela - great to hear that your tension has been relieved - if only just a little. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. -- Lucy

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 05, 2013:

The exercises felt great and seemed to relieve some of the tension immediately. Thanks for this information.

Lucy Jones (author) from Scandinavia on December 09, 2012:

Glad to have been of help. Doesn't sound good that you're not breathing though :) Watch out for neck tension - there's a lot of it about, especially for those that are working at the computer a lot. Take care and thanks for your comment.

Kim Lam from California on December 08, 2012:

Great felt good to take a break from writing hubs to stretch my neck. Sometimes I forget to breathe!

Lucy Jones (author) from Scandinavia on December 07, 2012:

Thanks for commenting Emanate Presence and keep on using those exercise bands, they are so good for so many things. Have a great day :)

Gary R. Smith from the Head to the Heart on December 05, 2012:

Very informative and helpful hub. Bookmarked for future reference and voted up and helpful. About ten days ago, after shown by a physiotherapist in Germany an exercise band, I started using it for releasing neck and shoulder tension. Seems to be helping. Thanks for your hub!

Lucy Jones (author) from Scandinavia on December 05, 2012:

@bac2basics: I've used these exercises for years - so almost know they work for this type of thing - but of course we're all unique, so what works for one may not work for all. But I'm so pleased to hear that among the more than 150K readers of this hub - you've had success with it too. Bless you for letting me know.

Anne from United Kingdom on December 05, 2012:

Hi Starbright. I just read this hub as I have soft tissue damage which will never go away and causes me pain ranging from discomfort to agony, but amazingly after doing this exercise for a few moments and sitting up straight the pain has gone, wow I am impressed and very glad I read this hub.

SteveWaugh1965 from Sydney, Australia on August 05, 2012:

Working behind a computer all day means that I'm particularly prone to neck muscle strains and pains. I'm hoping some of your exercises here will help ;) ....

Lucy Jones (author) from Scandinavia on July 31, 2012:

Alyssa: If these exercises don't work for you, perhaps it's best you visit your doctor. I sympathize with your discomfort.

Alyssa on July 30, 2012:

I have tried this and it just dose not work for my shoulder pain ifs been going on for 2 months

Lucy Jones (author) from Scandinavia on July 24, 2012:

Glad to hear these exercises are helping you. If you're still experiencing pain in your neck, the best thing to do is visit your doctor. No point in taking any risky chances. I can't tell you what's wrong - but your best bet is to get expert advice.

PainBgone on July 20, 2012:

I tied these exercises and i had pain that would bother me with the slightest movements i did these for a couple days and most of the pain is gone but for some reason when i tense my nech i feel pain or after pain where it hurt the most do you know whas wrong?

Lucy Jones (author) from Scandinavia on May 22, 2012:

I'm sorry this didn't work for you Ivette Camacho. Perhaps your pain is brought on from somewhere else. Many people have used this with great success in relieving the pain of neck and shoulder tension. Hopefully you're not suffering too much, but if you are then a trip to the doctor might be what's best. Take care.

ivette camacho on May 21, 2012:

this didn't work for me but i guess its OK and can u please post more stuff like this its great although it dont work!

Lucy Jones (author) from Scandinavia on May 05, 2012:

Hi Peniana.

I can understand why you'd be perplexed with that. In fact it's quite easy and very doable. To focus on this, I usually close my eyes and concentrate on the body parts I want to move around - sounds weird, but it works for me.

Try if you can to concentrate on you chest, shoulders and back of the neck. Once you've found your focus on those body parts, make your shoulders 'heavy' and without putting pressure on, move your shoulders downward at the same time make the back of your neck a little rigid and move it upward. This will automatically force your chin downward toward your chest.

When it's being done properly, the back and back of the head are in alignment and the upper vertebrae (above the shoulder blades) will be stretched, providing space between each vertebrae and pain relief (if any).

Let me know if this helps you better understand. I'd be happy to help further.

Peniana on May 01, 2012:

2.Please explain "Stretch your neck upward carefully and slowly while you sink your chin until it touches your chest - If I am to stretch upward, my chin will not touch my chest, it is either outward where it lines up with the chin or downward, grateful for your clarity on this as I really do want to try it out. Thanks

Lucy Jones (author) from Scandinavia on March 20, 2012:

Thanks to everyone for your generous comments. Happy to have helped out - to those that have tried them with success.

Bail Up ! on March 06, 2012:

Just tried these, so simple but yet so effective. I can't thank you enough. I will incorporate these neck and shoulder stretching exercises into my morning ritual from now on.

Sarah Carlsley from Minnesota on February 29, 2012:

Thank you for sharing your tips! I will have to try these :)

dpguillot on November 24, 2011:

Wow, I've tried rolling my neck and turning my head but not while lowering my shoulders. It really seemed to make a difference. Thanks,

IainM on October 06, 2011:

My neck was constantly cracking under the slightest pressure with a left or right tilt before I did these exercises thank you starbright!

Vuvu Chaz on August 22, 2011:

ur kidding me.... all the pain is just gone! best advice ever!

Lucy Jones (author) from Scandinavia on June 20, 2011:

To clear up any misunderstanding about chiropractors: this wasn't meant negatively, simply that a chiropractor costs money and if you can get neck or shoulder pain relief from exercise - then why go to the chiropractor!

This exercise works for most people in providing neck and shoulder pain relief.

Sharan on May 23, 2011:

Hi, your instructions are not very clear. In Point #3 of "Stretching the neck tension exercise", you said, "Now move your head carefully and slowly toward the right". When you say "move your head", do you mean "turn the head" or "tilt the head"? Both these movements cause stretching. So, which one is it? The same question applies to Point #5 for the left side.

Also, Points 6 and 7 both talk of moving the head to the right. One of them should be to the right, and the other, to the left.


Jo on April 24, 2011:

charis, there is nothing wrong with chiropractors - I have been going for several years and don't regret it at all. He always relieves my pain as well as headaches and even asthma. Maybe starbright doesn't know much about chiropractors and what they do.

charis on April 20, 2011:

Good article but, why do you say it's not a good idea to to the chiropracter? I've been going for quite a few months now to a very, very experienced one. He's very gentle and it seems so important to align my neck right, which has grown wrong over the years. What's wrong with it though?? I'd really like to know. Anyone???

yyyy135 on September 30, 2010:


soostressedout on December 21, 2009:

im so stressed out that i have half dollar sized knots in my neck, im hoping this works for my anxiety to, thank you for posting this, im going to try it.

Charnita Fance from Dothan, AL on October 01, 2009:

I'm having this issue now so I'm hoping this will work for me. It's such an awful pain :(

Janni on September 16, 2009:

Definitely going to try these for the tension migraines that's been coming at an almost daily basis lately - they're absolutely awful, but I don't want to take too many pills if I can avoid 'em! And with the muscle knots I can feel in my neck and by my shoulders, I'm sure this'll at least bring SOME relief! Thanks so much for sharing. :)

Lucy Jones (author) from Scandinavia on August 29, 2009:

Thanks everyone for your comments and useful input. These exercises are so good for the neck and shoulder areas - and you feel so fresh and almost born again once the ache(s) subsides. Great for stress too - to get rid of it.

Shoulder Workouts on August 12, 2009:

Thanks for promoting this! It does work! Way to take ownership!

kierra on May 05, 2009:

this was a great streach i think you guys should make some new one's

Vic on March 24, 2009:

Great strech. First time I tried this and it feels better alredy. I have been feeling tension on my neck and tightness (stress). Ima continue this and keep you guys posted

Lucy Jones (author) from Scandinavia on September 28, 2008:

Thanks so much everyone for your invaluable comments and input.

Debski on July 17, 2008:

i'm hoping these mobilising excercises will help me in my struggle against rebound migraines which leave me feeling so unbelievably tense

krazz on April 14, 2008:

I've had a lot of tightness and pain in my left shoulder and neck area. I'm hoping this will work.

Toronto Chiroprators on April 09, 2008:

Great step by step to relieving body stress. We all need to take a few minutes everyday to follow simple steps like this. It will pay off 10 fold in the long run.

Lucy Jones (author) from Scandinavia on January 14, 2008:

It certainly does work - and I'm pleased to hear that it does for you too JazLive. Thanks for your useful input.

JazLive from Decatur on January 13, 2008:

Yes, this works! This was one of the excercises I was taught in a "stress and pain management" session. My personal favorite is sitting on the edge of a chair with the back straight in "good posture" -- slowly bend ONLY the head forward and try to move the chin as close to the neck as possible without straining. This stretches the spinal column and helps to diminish upper and lower torso pain.

Manupulating joints is not like routine excersize [NO PAIN NO GAIN}

If any movement hurts - STOP! PAIN can translate into injury.

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