You know when you wake up, realized you slept weirdly, and literally feel like you need to purchase a neck brace for the day? Or maybe you're a victim of "text-neck" (yes, it's a real thing), or you're just plain stressed out and tense AF. As nice as a professional deep-tissue massage would be, your neck needs some TLC asap. So, some simple stretches for a stiff neck are going to have to suffice.
Neck tension is so real, especially when you're sitting at a desk, hunched over a computer all day, or even if you're just constantly staring at that article about Jon Snow's ass in the Game of Thrones finale on your iPhone (yeah, I see you).
But a stiff neck can actually develop sans technology, as well. When you're stressed or anxious, your body's muscles tighten in an attempt to protect you from harm (also known as the fight or flight response). Specifically, you'll probably feel the muscles tighten in the back of your neck, which is why, if you have a lot on your plate and it's stressing you out, you might find yourself complaining about a super stiff neck.
So, besides finding relaxing ways to de-stress, like deep breathing or meditation, try these five liberating neck stretches to release all that tension you're holding up there.
And then on the weekend, treat yo'self to a massage. You deserve it, girl.
1. Seated Neck Release
Target the sides of your neck with this super gentle stretch.
Hold each side of your head tilted for about 30 seconds, and breathe deeply while you feel the sensations this stretch brings.
Less is more when it comes to this effective neck stretch, so start with super subtle pressure, and slowly increase a bit if you want to go deeper.
2. Behind The Back Stretch
Targeting the shoulders works in direct correlation with neck tension, so this standing stretch is a serious lifesaver.
Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, and clasp your hands behind you, adjusting the height of your arms to go deeper.
This can be done anywhere -- even on a break from emails at work. Stand up and stretch that bad boy out. Your coworkers will probably join you, TBH.
3. Grounded Tipover Tuck
Start in child's pose, then bring the top of your head to the ground (or a mat). Slowly begin to gently roll the top of your head around on the floor, and pay close attention to your body as you feel different areas providing different forms of release to your neck.
This stretch will relax any funky business going on in your neck, and it'll be a kickass head massage.
4. Bridge Stretch
You've probably done bridge pose before and didn't even know how awesome it is for your neck.
This simple stretch allows you to control how much you release the back of your neck, depending on how high you lift your hips.
Go slowly, listen to your body, and feel that stress just melt away.
5. Neck Rolling Stretch
TBH, rolling your neck slowly in a circular motion might seem absurdly simple, but it really is the perfect release for neck tension.
Do this every hour or so if you're sitting at a desk over a computer or whenever you feel tightness building in your neck.
It'll be like giving your stressed out muscles a well-deserved vacation.