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Neck Exercises

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.


Neck exercises

help reduce neck pain, and improve neck movement and strength. Neck exercises also help prevent long-term neck problems.

Call your doctor if:

  • Your pain does not get better, or gets worse.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition, care, or exercise program.

What you need to know about exercise safety:

  • Move slowly, gently, and smoothly. Avoid fast or jerky motions.
  • Stand and sit the way your healthcare provider shows you. Good posture may reduce your neck pain. Check your posture often, even when you are not doing your neck exercises.
  • Follow the exercise program recommended by your healthcare provider. He or she will tell you which exercises are best for your condition. He or she will also tell you how many repetitions to do and how often you should do the exercises.

How to perform neck exercises safely:

  • Exercise position: You may sit or stand while you do neck exercises. Face forward. Your shoulders should be straight and relaxed, with a good posture.
    Starting Position
  • Head tilts, forward and back: Gently bow your head and try to touch your chin to your chest. Your healthcare provider may tell you to push on the back of your neck to help bow your head. Raise your chin back to the starting position. Tilt your head back as far as possible so you are looking up at the ceiling. Your healthcare provider may tell you to lift your chin to help tilt your head back. Return your head to the starting position.
    Head Tilts
  • Head tilts, side to side: Tilt your head, bringing your ear toward your shoulder. Then tilt your head toward the other shoulder.
    Head Tilts Side to Side
  • Head turns: Turn your head to look over your shoulder. Tilt your chin down and try to touch it to your shoulder. Do not raise your shoulder to your chin. Face forward again. Do the same on the other side.
    Head Turns
  • Head rolls: Slowly bring your chin toward your chest. Next, roll your head to the right. Your ear should be positioned over your shoulder. Hold this position for 5 seconds. Roll your head back toward your chest and to the left into the same position. Hold for 5 seconds. Gently roll your head back and around in a clockwise circle 3 times. Next, move your head in the reverse direction (counterclockwise) in a circle 3 times. Do not shrug your shoulders upwards while you do this exercise.
    Head Rolls

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.