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Tips for Relieving Neck and Shoulder Pain

By Debra Rodzinak

Many people who work out do not properly stretch out their neck or shoulder muscles beforehand.  The result is pain in the neck and shoulder area.  Neglecting the neck and shoulder muscles can lead to poor posture, pain, headaches, and ineffective workouts.  Relieving this pain is critical to maintain overall health and a feeling of well-being, and with some simple stretching and massage tips, overcoming this pain is now easy.


First, begin any new exercise regime with a trip to your doctor.  After you have the all clear, get a chiropractic treatment to ensure that all of the joints of the spine are in proper alignment.  Without proper alignment, if the muscles of the neck and shoulders are having to also support the body with improper posture, more damage can be done to the neck and spine.

Barbell Roll Out

If you have a barbell, tension in the neck and shoulders can be relieved before a stretch.  A foam roller or a tennis ball can also be used for this purpose.

Place the barbell on a rack so that it sits right below your shoulders.  Turn your back to the barbell and line up one shoulder to the barbell.  Dip under and massage the upper shoulder focusing on knots and tender spots.  Do this for about a minute and then work your way up to the side of the neck.  Switch sides as needed.

Side Neck Stretch

From a seated position, wrap one arm behind your back.  While keeping the shoulder relaxed, drop the opposite ear toward the shoulder.  Draw the shoulder down while gently stretching the neck.  Maintain this position for about a minute, then switch sides.

Forward Neck Stretch

While seated comfortably, interlace the fingers behind the head.  Gently draw the chin down toward the chest while sitting up tall.  While maintaining this position, move the head from side to side while stretching out the back of the neck.


Bend both arms at a 90-degree angle.  Stack one arm on top of the other in the crook of the arm.  Wrap the arms around each other and place the fingers of the bottom arm on the palm of the top arm.  Relax the shoulder, lift the elbows off of the chest, and slowly lift the hands toward the sky.

Supine Cactus

Begin this stretch on your stomach.  Extend the right arm out to the side and bend the elbow.  While keeping the arm and shoulder on the ground, roll onto the right hip and place the left foot behind the right leg on the ground.  Keep the head, chest, and right shoulder on the ground, relaxed, as you do this exercise.

Criss Cross Arms

Lay flat on the floor, face down.  Thread the arms across each other and place your forehead onto the floor.  Relax as the body’s weight stretches the back and shoulder muscles.

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