If you’re like many fitness fanatics, you probably forget about exercising your neck muscles when you do your weekly workout. Including a few neck exercises in your routine can help keep your neck healthy and strong. One effective exercise is the four-way neck lift. The exercise technique is easy -- you simply lift your head in four different directions. The benefits are many, and the best part is you don’t even have to get out of bed.
Benefits of Neck Exercises
Neck exercises and stretches can help relieve tension and keep your neck muscles strong and flexible. In addition, the exercises can effectively strengthen the muscles in your shoulders and upper back. Having tight, stiff neck muscles can make many simple daily activities quite painful. With a regular neck-exercise routine, your muscles can relax and become more flexible. This helps increase your range of motion, which may reduce any pain caused by stiff muscles.
Start the neck lifting exercise with the face-up lift. Lie on your back on your bed with your head at the foot of the bed. Scoot far enough toward the end so the base of your head is at the edge of the bed. Tuck your chin toward your chest, lift your head, pause for a count of five, lower your head to the starting position and repeat.
Lift to Left Shoulder
Roll onto your right side to perform the second lift. Slide farther down toward the end of the bed until your right armpit is at the edge. Let your right arm dangle. Start by relaxing your neck muscles and letting your head lower toward the floor. Tuck your chin, lift your head toward your left shoulder as high as you can, pause for a count of five, lower your head to the starting position and repeat.
For the third lift, lie on your stomach at the foot of your bed and put your arms by your sides. Position your body so your head is unsupported, hanging over the edge of the bed. Tuck in your check, lift your head as high as you can, pause for a count of five, lower your head as far as you can and repeat.
Lift to Right Shoulder
Roll over onto your left side to do the forth lift. Allow your left arm to dangle off the edge of the bed. Relax your neck muscles and let your head lower toward the floor. To start, tuck your chin, lift your head toward your right shoulder as high as you can, pause for a count of five, lower your head to the starting position and repeat.
Alternative Neck Exercise
This alternative exercise uses your hands to resist four directional movements of your head. Place your hands against your forehead and move your head forward while your hands resist the movement. Hold and relax. Next, put your hands behind the base of your head and move your head backward while your hands resist. Again, hold and relax. Now, place your right hand against the right side of your head and move your head to the right against your hand's resistance. Hold and relax. Finally, use your left hand as resistance, move your head to the left, hold and relax.
You can perform the four lifts in any order, just be sure to complete all four in one session. Do one lift five times and then move on to the next lift. Dr. Alex Simotas, specialist in spine and sports medicine, recommends doing all four lifts daily. When doing the hand-resisted exercises, hold each head movement for five seconds before relaxing. Move your head in one direction five to 10 times and then move on to the next direction. This exercise can be done up to three times each day.