Exercises for the Neck or Cervical Spine


Exercises for the NeckThe primary goals of an exercise program for your cervical spine are to make the muscles of your neck, shoulders, and upper back strong and flexible. The following is a series of safe and effective abdominal exercises that will help alleviate neck pain.

Crunches

With your arms crossed in front, bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor. Lift your upper back off the floor and lower down. Every time you lift emphasis the contraction of your abdominal muscles. You should exhale as you lift up and inhale and you lower down. Go through a series of 10.

Follow your first set of crunches with an alternative to the forward crunch, a cross over. Reach to the right and then reach to the left. Taking it up 10 times. The next set of crunches will take you all the way up. Concentrate on keeping your neck in-line with your spine and when you get to the top give a twist as if you were going around a skewer. For this crunch you will want to keep your heels on the ground. Again continuing for a series of 10.

Next try a double crunch. Keeping your lower legs parallel to the floor cross your hands in front of your chest. Then take it up into a bent leg, lower down, and extend your legs almost straight into an extension and then alternate. Continue for a series of 10.

All three of these exercises can be done in a series of three sets, with 15 to 20 reps in each set.

Leg Raises

Lying on your stomach spread your feet as far apart as the mat is wide. Place your hands behind your head, or if you have neck pain, behind your back. Then lift your legs up along with your chin, as if you were in a skydive position. Hold for a count of 10. Continue for a series of 10, working up to 15 to 20 reps.

Bridge Pose

Lie on your stomach with your body propped up on your elbows. Focusing on a horizontal posture move, that creates a board-like structure, come up on your toes while keeping your neck in-line with your spine and your abs tight. You should feel like you have to hold your core in to be able to maintain this pose. Stay in the pose for 10 seconds before relaxing and then returning to the pose. Continue to move into the pose for a series of 10.

Exercise Ball

Start by sitting on the ball, and then walking the ball so that your low back is resting on it. Cross your hands in front of your chest, keeping your neck in-line with your spine. Leaning forward, move into a crunch. Remember to exhale on the crunch. Continue for a series of 10.

Human Rolling Pin

Kneel down on the mat and reach forward on the ball so you just have your fingertips on it. Then roll, down on the ball gradually resting the back of your arms on it as you come down. Keep your body in a straight line the entire time. Then roll back in. Work straight down on your abdominals in the front while emphasizing and strengthening your back muscles. Go through a slow series of 10.

Pike

Starting with your body forward over the ball, slowly move forward to the point where your hips are on the ball. Then roll your legs right on top of the ball until you are in a knee tuck. The series is a combination of a tuck and extension back. Go through a series of 10.

A modification on this exercise is to come into a Pike position once you have rolled your legs on top of the back, changing the combination to a tuck, pike, tuck, and extension back. Again, a series of 10 is a good starting point for this exercise.

Exercise Program

Ankle PumpsCrunches - With your arms crossed in front, bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor. Lift your upper back off the floor and lower down.

Watch the Video

Heel SlidesLeg Raises - Lying on your stomach spread your feet as far apart as the mat is wide.

Watch the Video

Abdominal ContractionBridge Pose - Lie on your stomach with your body propped up on your elbows.

Watch the Video

Wall SquatsExercise Ball - Start by sitting on the ball, and then walking the ball so that your low back is resting on it.

Watch the Video

Wall SquatsHuman Rolling Pin - Kneel down on the mat and reach forward on the ball so you just have your fingertips on it.

Watch the Video

Wall SquatsPike - Starting with your body forward over the ball, slowly move forward to the point where your hips are on the ball.

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The materials on this Web site are for your general educational information only. Information you read on this Web site cannot replace the relationship that you have with your health care professional. We do not practice medicine or provide medical services or advice as a part of this Web site. You should always talk to your health care professional for diagnosis and treatment.

Published: May 03, 2007
Updated: April 28, 2010