Pilates Stretches to Alleviate Neck Tension

Spending too much time slumped over a laptop? Waking up with a sore neck? It doesn’t take much to put our body out of alignment and cause tension. Even sitting too long can cause musculoskeletal issues. 

Fortunately, there are simple exercises you can do to help keep your postural muscles active and your body balanced. These Pilates-based neck stretches, for example, can be done whenever you’re feeling neck tension. Move slowly and gently to release tension in your neck and shoulders.

1. Posture Awareness

To start, sit or stand up straight and relax your shoulders. Deep inhale. Deep exhale . On exhale, contract your abs and relax shoulder even more. Here, bring awareness to your neck. Imagine the tension melting.

2. Shoulder Rolls

Roll your shoulders back for twenty seconds to warm up.

3. Shoulder Shrug

Shrug your shoulders and hold the elevated position for three seconds. Release back down, feeling tension release. Repeat three times.

4. Head Nod

Still standing straight with shoulders relaxed, nod head down. Hold for a few moments  feeling the back of your neck lengthen. Come back to neutral spine. Repeat and completely release weight of your head down.

5. Head Nod Side to Side

Stand straight and stare softly forward.  Slowly tilt your head to the side, as if  your left ear is trying to touch your left shoulder. Repeat on opposite side.

6. Upper Trapezius Stretch

With your head still tilting to the side, nod your chin in and down  towards your collarbone, feeling a deeper stretch on the opposite side of your neck. Repeat on other side.

7. Sternocleidomastoid Stretch

Begin by standing straight and looking forward. Then look to your left side past your shoulder. While remaining in this position, slowly tilt your chin up, feeling a stretch along the long, muscle on the opposite side of your neck.  Repeat on other side.

8. Chest Opener

Clasp your hands behind your head.  Release shoulders away from ears and lift sternum up toward ceiling feeling the chest stretch open.  Release forward to upright and repeat several times.

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