Chronic neck pain can be relieved with tai chi, a low-impact mind-body exercise, according to research findings. Researchers compared a group of participants who completed tai chi exercises for neck pain relief to a control group that did not receive treatment. The study also examined whether tai chi is more beneficial than traditional neck exercises.
The study enrolled 114 participants who suffered from neck pain for at least three months. Coauthor Peter M. Wayne explained, “The study results showed that 12 weeks of tai chi was more effective than no treatment to improve pain, disability, quality of life, and postural control in persons with chronic neck pain.”
Tai chi focuses on specific movements tied with breathing techniques, aiming to improve mobility, flexibility, and reduce pain.
Simple exercises to relieve your neck pain
Exercise can be quite helpful in relieving both acute and chronic neck pain. In fact, you can perform these exercises anywhere, whether you are working at your desk or watching TV from the comfort of your home. They are simple, easy, and don’t require any complex equipment.
Neck stretch: Keeping your neck aligned with your spine, gently tense your neck muscles and hold this position for a few seconds. Release and return your head back to center and push it back while maintaining a chin up. Hold this for five seconds and release. Repeat as desired.
Neck tilt: Tilt your head towards one shoulder, leading with your ear. Return your head to center. Now tilt your head towards the other shoulder. Repeat as desired.
Once you complete the neck tilt side to side, you can progress to move your head forward. Start with your head centered looking forward. Gently tense your neck muscles as you tilt your head forward – chin should be heading towards your chest. Hold this tilted position for a few seconds and return back to center. Repeat at least five times.
Neck turn: Neck turn is similar to a neck tilt, but instead of tilting your head side to side, turn your head so that you are no longer looking forward. Turn your head to the right and hold this position for a few seconds. Return to center, then turn your head to the left and hold. Repeat a few times a day.
Seated neck release: While sitting on the floor cross-legged, use your hand to gently pull your head down just like you did in the head tilt exercise. Ensure you are only applying gentle pressure and don’t overstretch it. Complete this on both sides.
Seated clasping neck stretch: Still sitting cross-legged, this move is similar to the forward neck tilt, but you are going to intertwine your fingers and pull your head down forward, so that your chin is coming closer to your chest.
Behind the back neck stretch: Standing up, grasp your right wrist with your left arm behind your back and give it a gentle pull. While you’re pulling on your arm, tilt your head to the side of the hand, grabbing onto the wrist. Complete each side and repeat a few times.
Grounded tip-over tuck: While kneeling on a matt, tuck your head down so that you are staring at your knees. Grasp both of your hands and have them behind you in the air.
Seated heart opener: With your knees on a matt, lean back and place your hands down behind you for support. Allow your head to drop backwards so you are looking to the ceiling.
Bridge: Lay on your back to start and keep feet flat on the matt, knees bent. Push up and bring your arms beneath your back – shoulders should be pressed on the matt. Clasp your hands together and hold.
By practicing these exercises regularly, you can relieve acute or chronic neck pain.