The two main neck muscles sternocleidomastoid and splenius help you to move your head up, down, right, left and at other angles. During our fitness programs we often forget to exercise these muscles. And unless we injure our neck or develop chronic neck pain we don’t take up neck strengthening exercises.
For several reasons like sitting for long hours before computer screens or reading a book with head bent can strain our neck. As they say prevention is better than cure. Therefore, we must do some neck strengthening exercises either in our free time or as part of our fitness routine. The under mentioned exercises our simple yet effective in relieving stiffness.
1) Cervical Retraction: Sit up straight. Now keeping the chin leveled gently pull it straight in, so the back of your neck feels long. Don’t lift your head up or bend it down. It counters the tendency of slipping into a forward bend posture.
2) Upper Cervical Nodding: Sitting straight slowly nod your head in up and down motion 3-5 times.
3) Neck Stretching: Sitting straight slowly turn your head left and then slowly turn it to the right side. Another variation is to tilt your head towards one shoulder and then towards the other. Repeat 3-5 times.
4) Neck Flexion: Practice it sitting or standing. Look straight ahead and place one hand on your forehead. Bend your head forward to tuck your chin in the throat. Resist this movement by pressing the palm on the forehead. Hold the stronghold position for sometime, and then return to starting position.
5) Neck Extension: Place your palm on the back of your head while looking straight. Now bend your head backward, lifting your chin. Resist this movement by pushing your palm forward. Hold the stronghold position for sometime and then return to starting position.
6) Neck Lateral Flexion: Place your left palm over your left ear. Now start bending your head towards the left shoulder. Resist this movement with pressure of your palm. Maintain the stronghold position for sometime. Repeat for the right side.
Trikonasana (the triangle posture), Jalandhara Bandha (Chin Lock) and Matsyana Asana (the fish posture) are some neck strengthening exercises recommended by yoga experts.
Daily practice of these exercises will help relieve built-up stress and neck pain.