People of all ages experience pain in their necks from time to time, but the elderly are at a greater risk for injury because of age-related changes in ligaments. In this article, we’ll cover 6 simple exercises you can do to help alleviate neck pain.
Aging is a natural process that everyone eventually goes through, but it doesn’t have to be a painful one! One of the most common sources of pain for older people is from their necks, which can create big problems as you age.
Our necks usually experience a temporary “rebound” effect after an injury. The muscles and ligaments in your neck hold many of your spinal vertebrae together and keep the weight off of certain joints. This process often goes awry as you age, but there are a couple of things you can do to help support the ligaments and joints as they become less elastic over time.
In this article, we’ll cover six exercises that will relax tight muscles and increase blood flow to your neck.
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The Benefit of Neck Exercises for Seniors
The benefits of neck exercises are many. Not only do they help keep your neck healthy, but they also provide other health benefits. Here are just a few of them:
- Pain Relief: If you lack flexibility in your neck, you could experience a lot of pain from arthritis. Tight muscles can also be a cause of a lot of headaches for older people. By loosening up your neck, blood flow increases to the head and radiates out to all parts of the body. This movement also boosts circulation to the brain and improves brain function by increasing oxygen intake and improving blood flow there too.
- Prevention of Injury: When you spend a lot of time sitting at a computer or in the car, your neck muscles get tight. You can help prevent injury caused by muscle tightness by performing neck stretches and exercises regularly.
In summary, you can significantly reduce pain and the chances of neck injury by performing a few simple exercises. The best thing about these exercises is that you can do them just about anywhere, helping you stay healthy and active throughout the day.
6 Gentle Stretching Exercises for Your Neck
While it’s normal to feel soreness or tension in your neck as you age, it can become downright painful if not addressed. Fortunately for seniors, there are some effective exercises that you can perform regularly.
Chin tucks are commonly recommended for relieving neck pain. They are essentially neck stretches, which will help relieve chronic neck pain, headaches, tension in the upper body and shoulders, and improve posture.
To perform this stretch, sitting in a chair, make sure your back is straight and you are sitting upright. Place your finger on your chin. Move your chin away from your finger by moving your chin backward and not tucking it in towards your chest. Hold the stretch.
Neck Flexion Stretch
This exercise stretches both sides of the neck by pulling or pushing on opposite shoulders.
Sit on a firm chair or bed with both hands resting in your lap. Start with your shoulders relaxed and your head in a neutral position. Place your hand on the front of your head to keep your head from actually moving. Push your head gently into your hand like you are going to touch your chin to your chest.
Neck Extension Stretch
This exercise stretches the back of the neck by pulling or pushing on your forehead.
Sit on a firm chair or bed with your hands resting in your lap. Start with your shoulders relaxed and your head in a neutral position. Bring your head forward so that it is close to the front of your body. Bring one hand to the nape of your neck and use it to gently pull or push forward to create the additional stretch. You can also gently push against your forehead with the back of your other hand to create a stretch in the opposite direction.
Neck Side Flexion Stretch
This is a simple exercise that will help to activate the muscles along your cervical spine. It is useful for relieving neck pain, tension headaches, and stiff necks.
In a seated posture, gently bend your neck as if you were taking your left ear towards your left shoulder. Use your hand to gently pull your head a little further, creating a gentle stretch on the opposite side of your neck. Now repeat to the right.
Neck Rotation Stretch
This is an excellent exercise to improve rotation and mobility in your neck.
Rotate your neck to its end of the range. Place the palm of your hand on the side of your head, and gently push your neck into slightly more rotation. Hold the stretch, and relax. This is an excellent exercise to improve rotation and mobility in your neck. In addition, it also helps to relieve tension in the neck and shoulders.
Levator Scapula Stretch
This stretching exercise is beneficial for the neck, shoulders, and upper back. It can be performed both in a standing or seated position.
To perform this stretch, on the side you want to stretch, bring your arm up and place your hand on the back of your shoulder blade so your elbow is pointing upward towards the ceiling. Take your other hand over your head and place it on the back of your head. Gently pull your head down at about a 45-degree angle, like you are pulling it towards your opposite knee until you feel a stretch.
By practicing the above neck stretches, you can keep your neck healthy and young. By bettering your positions and movements, you can reduce the strain on your neck and also prevent injury. Also, it is important to remember that even though the neck is weak, it does not mean that it cannot be strengthened. The gentle strength-building exercises mentioned above can keep your body healthy and strong.
What causes neck pain?
Neck pain usually results from stress, poor posture, falls, accidents, or the natural aging process. As we age our bodies change and so do their functions. While some of these changes are normal and to be expected, others are telltale signs of wear and tear.
What part of the neck do these exercises target?
These exercises focus on the muscles and ligaments in and around your cervical spine (neck).
How often should I do neck exercises?
The frequency depends on your level of pain or discomfort. Since our bodies are different, the severity of pain differs from person to person.
How long should I do these exercises?
You probably won’t need to practice them for more than 10 minutes, 2 or 3 times a day.
What is the most important thing to remember about neck exercises?
The key is consistency and patience. Those with chronic pain may lack the motivation to exercise, and that’s okay – don’t worry – we’re all different and we all cope with pain in different ways. It’s important that we take the time we need so as not to aggravate our condition, but still…choose a gradual approach to working out.