Neck pain and stiffness exercises

Key points about neck pain and stiffness exercises

  • Do you have a sore or stiff neck? There's good news!
  • Simple stretches can often help relieve some pain and support you to feel better.
  • Gentle movement helps healing.
  • Below are a few exercises to try.
Woman tilts head doing neck pain exercise
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Stress and tension in your body, as well as sitting for long periods of time, often contribute to neck pain and stiffness. Regular movement and stretching helps to strengthen the muscles of your neck and shoulders, increase your flexibility and decrease pain. Read more about neck pain.

Remember it's important to talk to your healthcare provider or physiotherapist if your neck pain persists.

A couple of tips:

  • Start in a relaxed position, standing or sitting in a chair and looking forward.
  • Relax as you move, move slowly and aim for a gentle stretch.
  • Breathe in and out deeply when you stretch.
  • For best results, try to do a couple of these exercises daily.

Always remember: 

  • These exercises shouldn't hurt. If you feel pain, stop.
  • If your neck still hurts a lot after trying these exercises, you have any health conditions, or your neck pain is affecting your ability to go about your daily activities, talk to your healthcare provider or a physiotherapist.

  • Tilt your head towards your shoulder until you feel a gentle stretch.
  • Hold: 15–30 seconds.
  • Lift your head back to the middle, then tilt it to the other side. Hold.
  • Repeat: 2–3 times on each side.


  • Slowly turn your head to one side until your chin is over your shoulder, or as far as comfortable.
  • Hold: 15–30 seconds.
  • Slowly turn your head to the front, then to the other side.
  • Repeat: 2–3 times each side.
Woman turns her head to her right for neck pain Woman turns her head to look left for neck pain


Woman pushes her chin forward to stretch her neck



  • Push your chin forward so your throat stretches.
  • Hold: 5–10 seconds.
  • Pull your chin back.
  • Repeat: 5 times.

  • Roll your shoulders up, back, and then down in a smooth motion.
  • Repeat: 5 times.
  • Reverse the direction.
  • Repeat: 5 times
Woman rolls her shoulders up for neck pain stretch Woman rolls her shoulder back to stretch for neck pain

Woman tilts her head forward to help neck pain



  • Gently pull your head back, keeping your chin down.
  • Imagine you are making a double chin, or looking like a chicken.
  • Hold: 5 seconds, then relax.
  • Repeat: 5 times.

  • Slowly tilt your head forward, trying to touch your chin to your chest.
  • Hold: 15–30 seconds
  • Slowly lift your head and tilt it backward, looking up at the ceiling.
  • Hold: 15–30 seconds.
  • Repeat 2–3 times.
Woman tilts head forward to help relieve neck pain Woman looks up and tilts head back to help neck pain



  1. Neck stretches(external link) Mayo Clinic, US, 2021
  2. Neck stretches(external link) Western Sydney University, Australia, 2017

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Credits: Jess Kelso, BPhEd and Healthify editorial team. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.

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