Slideshow: 4 Easy Stretches for Neck and Shoulder Pain

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Collage of 4 neck stretches - flexion stretch, lateral flexion stretch, levator scapula stretch, corner stretch

Poor posture can cause your head and shoulders to drift forward, tightening chest and neck muscles and ultimately causing neck pain. A physical therapist may recommend one or more of the following stretches to help your pain.

image of woman doing the flexion stretch for neck pain relief
Flexion Stretch

For this stretch, stand with your feet shoulder width apart or sit up straight, cross-legged on the ground or in a chair. Center your head over your shoulders. Slowly bring your chin down toward your chest until a slight stretch is felt in the back of the neck. Hold this stretch for 5 to 10 seconds and then return to your normal posture.

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image of woman doing the lateral flexion stretch for neck pain relief
Lateral Flexion Stretch

Begin in a neutral position, facing straight ahead, your head centered over your shoulders. Slowly tilt your ear toward your shoulder until you feel a stretch in the side of your neck. Avoid shrugging your shoulder or leaning your head forward or back during this stretch. Slowly bring your head back to its starting position and try this stretch on the other side.

image of woman doing the levator scapula stretch for neck pain relief
Levator Scapula Stretch

Standing in or next to a doorway, raise your arm so your elbow is at shoulder level. Rest your elbow against the side of a door jamb. Bring your chin down and toward the collarbone opposite your raised arm. You should feel a stretch in the back and side of your neck. Hold this position for 30 seconds, and repeat for the other side if necessary.

image of woman doing the corner stretch for neck pain relief
Corner Stretch

For this stretch, stand facing a corner of a room or a doorway. Place your forearms on each wall, your elbows slightly below shoulder level. Lean forward until you feel a stretch in your chest under the collarbone. Hold this stretch for 30 to 60 seconds, and slowly return to starting position.