How to Relieve Neck and Shoulder Tension (Fast Fixes)

Neck tension and pain can develop due to stress, working at a computer all day, poor sleeping positions, poor posture, or even improper breathing mechanics

Neck tension can often lead to tension headaches and other spine issues. You can reduce uncomfortable or painful neck tension by doing neck stretches, using massage and heat, and by adjusting your daily routine.

Gently lower your chin towards your chest. At the same time, imagine you’re standing against a wall, and slide the back of your head up along that imaginary wall.[2]

  • When you sit in front of a monitor all day, the bottom half of your neck ends up flexed, but the top part ends up in extension so you can see the screen. To help relieve that, you need to have the top portion of your neck flexed forward, with the bottom part sitting over itself.
  • Hold this stretch for two to three breaths. You should feel your neck muscles and your shoulder muscles lengthening.
  • Inhale as you lift your head and return to the starting position. Repeat this exercise two to three times, holding for two to three breathes at a time.
  •  Start by tucking your chin in toward your chest and lifting the back of your head. Then, inhale and tilt your head to the right side. Extend and elongate your neck towards the space to your right, rather than try to bring your ear to your shoulder. You should feel a stretch on your left shoulder and the left side of your neck. Hold this position for three breaths. As you exhale, raise your neck and look forward. Then, inhale as you tilt your head to the left side. Hold this position for three breaths.[3]
  • Neck tilts are a good way to start your neck stretching routine, as they will help to lengthen the larger muscles in your neck and relax your whole body. Lengthening and stretching the small muscles in your neck can also prevent tension headaches.[4]
  • Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position on an exercise mat or a soft surface. You can use props like a yoga block or a pillow and sit on them to make the seated position more comfortable.
  • You can repeat this exercise two to three times on each side. You can also add some resistance by placing your hand against your head and gently applying pressure to your head as you tilt your head to one side. If you are tilting your head to the right side, for example, you would use your left hand to apply light pressure on the left side of your head. Do not pull or tug on your neck and only apply light, gentle pressure on your head.