Exercise advice: neck pain

This page provides general information about neck pain and simple exercises that may help.

Simple exercises

Neck tilt

 

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Tilt your head down to rest your chin on your chest.

Gently tense your neck muscles and hold for 5 seconds.

Return to a neutral position and repeat 5 times.

Neck tilt (side to side)

 

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Tilt your head down towards your shoulder, leading with your ear.

Gently tense your neck muscles and hold for 5 seconds.

Return your head to centre and repeat on the opposite side.

Repeat 5 times on each side.

Neck turn

 

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Turn your head towards one side, keeping your chin at the same height and moving within comfortable limits.

Gently tense your neck muscles and hold for 5 seconds.

Return your head to the centre and repeat on the opposite side.

Repeat 5 times on each side.

Neck stretch

 

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Keeping the rest of the body straight, push your chin forward so your throat is stretched.

Gently tense your neck muscles and hold for 5 seconds.

Return your head to the centre and push it backwards, keeping your chin up.

Hold for 5 seconds.

Repeat 5 times.

Summary

  • Neck pain is common but most cases aren’t caused by a serious problem.
  • Most cases of neck pain get better on their own within a few weeks.
  • Stay active. Bed rest for more than a couple of days makes it harder to get going. Gradually increase your normal activities and do regular exercise.
  • Take painkillers if needed so you can stay active.

Your pain should ease within 2 weeks and you should recover over approximately a 4–6 week period.

You should use the suggested exercises for at least 6–8 weeks to help prevent symptoms returning.

If you have severe neck pain or weakness in your arms/hands, contact your doctor.

PDF version

To make it easier for you to print these exercises we have created a PDF version, suitable for home printing

Acknowledgements

This content has been authorised for use by Arthritis Research UK.

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Video exercises to help with neck pain

Having read the advice sheet first, these videos may help you to follow the exercises.

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