From Your Neck Up

Everyday stress and physical activity tend to build up tension in your neck. Try these tips to reduce the pains in your neck.

The neck is one of the places within the body where people typically carry the most tension. As marching musicians, the neck is especially important (it helps keep your chip up), and your body’s correct alignment is key to maintaining a healthy neck.

Pillow Talk

One of the first things to check is the pillow you are using when you sleep to ensure that it is helping your neck stay in line with your spine. When sleeping on your side, your pillow should make up the difference between your shoulder and the bottom of your jaw. You want to be able to prevent as much tension buildup as possible.

Oveer Your Shoulder

To stretch your neck, sit up tall on the ground, turn your head to look over your left shoulder and stay there for two to three breaths. Keeping your chin over your left shoulder, turn your face up and lift your head back. Make sure to keep your shoulders down. Return your chin parallel to the ground once again and then move your face back to center. Repeat on the other side.

Arm Involvement

Some good stretches to prevent and work through neck pain and tension involve use of the arms. Standing with your feet hip distance apart, position your right hand just above your left ear and relax your head over to your right shoulder. Make sure to keep your right shoulder down and away from your ear. Hold for three to five breaths, and breathe into the hollow between your head and your shoulder. Repeat on the other side.

Standing tall with your feet hip distance apart, interlace your hands behind your head. Point your elbows in front of you. Allow your head to be heavy and relax your neck more. Draw your head down using the strength of your arms. Make sure to keep your shoulders back and your shoulder blades moving down your back. Take eight to 10 breaths.

For an exercise to try while sitting at your desk, take your arms up and over your shoulders. Place the palms of your hands on your shoulder blades. Your elbows should try to point toward the ceiling. Make sure not to pinch your shoulder blades and move your shoulders away from your ears. This stretch helps you remember to relax through the neck.

Back Bend

Last, here’s a more advanced stretch. Sitting sideways on a chair without arms, allow yourself to move backwards slowly. Your mid to low back should be supported by the bottom of the chair, and your shoulder blades and neck should hang off the side of the chair. Allow your arms to dangle above your head. Make sure to move slowly and do not breathe too deeply if you have low blood pressure. This stretch is a very mild back bend. Use your arms to assist yourself in and out of the posture. Stay in position for six to 10 breaths.

About the Author

After dancing since the age of 3, Haley Greenwald-Gonella thought it was time to try a new art. In elementary school, she began playing the flute and was in the marching band in middle school and for the first two years of high school. She also played the bassoon during concert season. Dance drew Haley back while in high school.

She graduated from the University of California, Irvine, with degrees in dance and English. She recently graduated from the University of Southern California with a master’s degree in Specialized Journalism (The Arts). Haley is also a certified registered yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance. She draws upon her dance and yoga training when it comes to all things fitness and the arts.