General Question

Seelix's avatar

Do you know of any stretching exercises to ease back and/or neck pain?

Asked by Seelix (14862points) April 19th, 2011

I’m looking for some easy stretching exercises to help with back and/or neck pain. I know my back is sore because I’ve been spending so much time hunched over books, but there’s not a lot I can do about that. Essays have to be written, and though I try to sit straight in my chair, I’m a handwriter and I’m constantly referencing giant books, so my back inevitably gets stiff after working for a while.

Anyone have any ideas about how to stretch out my ouchies throughout the day and once I’ve called it a night?

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19 Answers

SuperMouse's avatar

Cobra postures are helpful for back pain. I am also a big fan of cat stretches.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

This one helps me out a lot for the same issue.

KateTheGreat's avatar

Whenever I start to get back pain, I put my my hands on the side of a door frame and lean forward. It stretches the muscles and releases the tension.

john65pennington's avatar

Lay flat on your back and place your legs on top of a chair or sofa cushion. Best back relief you will ever have.

Your back should be flat on the floor and your back muscles will completely relax.

A glass of wine is also recommended.

bobbinhood's avatar

If you happen to have a park nearby, you can hook your knees around a piece of equipment and hang upside down for a little bit. A little bit of time upside down does more for my back than any stretch.

marinelife's avatar

Yoga is wonderful for relieving back and neck tension.

Seelix's avatar

Thanks, everyone. I’ll definitely be trying out some of this stuff before bedtime!

Cruiser's avatar

Yoga. Do the Sun Salutation in the morning and the Moon Salutation at night.

Coloma's avatar

Use hand weights to strengthen your neck, shoulders and upper back muscles.

And yes…what @Cruiser said. Yoga is awesome for stretching and limbering up.

Try to sit at a desk or table when studying or on the computer.

dabbler's avatar

+ 1 yoga in general
thanks @Cruiser ! I have been wondering about the moon salute for a long time
just plain getting out of the chair regularly can really help even if you have to make yourself do it.

JLeslie's avatar

Is the back pain upper back pain?

JLeslie's avatar

For your neck having a great pillow that supports your neck can help you recover while you rest and sleep. Even just rolling a towel and placing it behind your neck can really help while lying on your back. When you sleep, be sure your shoulders are on the bed, and your neck and head are on the pillow.

Stregnthening your back and neck muscles can help avoid developing the upper back and neck pain. The best advice I have for that is dance class, especially ballet, yoga (which I have never been able to do) and remembering to sit up straight and walk tall. But, for me dance class works the best, whenever I start up again I can tell the difference in several weeks.

seazen_'s avatar

I would recommend going to a professional and having a plan tailor made.

I can say this about back pain: it’s very hard to isolate back muscles, but the stronger your stomache muscles are – the less back pain you’ll have. There are neck exercises as well, but I think any stretching and exercising should be part of a professionally prepared plan.

It’s almost like someone recommending what glasses you should wear. Go to a club – get weighed poked and examined. Then get a good plan based on your exact needs, strengths and weaknesses. Your heart, cardio, breathing, fat, weight – history of illnesses and genes should be factored in. There are no shortcuts.

anartist's avatar

You can do basic neck and shoulder stretches while at your computer—head rolls, shoulder rolls, putting one arm across your breast or behind/above your head and pulling gently with the other hand.
You can spend a little time in the yoga position of the child
you can stand and slowly reach down to your toes and just sway and relax

you can also get acupuncture or acupressure treatments

You can also work at your computer at a balans chair improves posture to relieve back stress or sitting one of those giant exercise balls. The ball isometrically exercises your back as you make tiny subconscious adjustments to keep balance on the spongy curved surface.

Seelix's avatar


@john65pennington – I like the glass of wine suggestion ;)
@bobbinhood – Nowhere around here to hang from, sadly :(
@Coloma – I definitely do all my work at my desk – I used to sit on the couch and work on the coffee table, but it didn’t take long to figure out how painful that was!
@JLeslie – It’s mostly my middle back (rib cage area) and neck that get sore. I do have one of those memory foam pillows, and I try to go to sleep with it supporting my neck.

@everyone – Thank you for your suggestions. Visiting a health club, taking classes or anything like that is definitely out of the range of my budget, but when I have time I’m planning to take a look at the DVDs they have at the public library. I remember seeing a Gaiam DVD – Yoga for back pain or something like that. I figure that since I can’t get to a professional, at least following the order presented by Rodney Yee should probably help more than hurt.

Really, thank you for your help; I appreciate it!

seazen_'s avatar

@Seelix Treat yourself to a trial month at a good gym – it usually includes a pro checking you out and giving you a plan. Then you can continue with the plan on your own.

Hanging is also good. Go to the monkey bars in the park. Hang with your head down, loose as you can, for as long as you can hold on. Do it a few times. It helps.

Coloma's avatar


Me too, after slouching over my laptop and being completely torqued I now only sit at a table with my back straight and my feet on the ground. Helps a lot!

JLeslie's avatar

A little ibuprofen on rare occassions when you have over done it can be helpful. It does not just treat the discomfort, it also reduces the inflammation and relaxes the muscle. Two to three pills (should be 400–600 mg) taken with a galss of water and a little food, can be a cracker. Takes about 50 minutes to kick in.

Not that it should replace strengthening the muscles or stretching.

afghanhound's avatar

I have mild sciatica, and met with a physical therapist once who taught me some great stretches/exercises. That coupled with anti-inflammatories helped me (such as ibuprofen).

For your neck, there’s always this: bend down your head until your chin is close to touching your chest, and hold it down with your hand for 10 seconds. Then bend your head to the left (ear to shoulder) and hold it, repeating on the right side, and then look straight up (pointing your chin to the ceiling). Good luck!

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