Exercises to Relieve Upper Back & Neck Pain

If you've tried over-the-counter medication for your upper back and neck pain and it doesn't seem to be working, you may want to consider doing simple exercises to help relieve your pain and discomfort. If your pain is a result of an injury or accident, talk to your doctor before doing any exercises to avoid further injury.

Butterfly Exercise

This exercise uses your arms to help stretch the muscles in your upper back. Start by sitting upright in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Keep your back straight and your head forward. Lift your arms and bend at the elbows and place the fingers of each hand on the shoulder of the same side. Keeping your back straight and your fingers on your shoulders, rotate your arms in front of your body so your forearms come together and touch. Hold this position for three seconds, then slowly return to the starting position. Repeat 10 to 15 times.

Neck Roll

To help relax and strengthen the muscles in your upper back and neck area, try the neck roll. Sit up straight in a hard-back chair with your hand on your lap. Focus on completely relaxing the muscles in and surrounding your neck. Slowly lower your chin to your chest. Take a deep breath and keep focusing on relaxing your muscles. Roll your head slowly to the left so your left ear is touching or close to your left shoulder. Hold this position for three to four seconds, then roll your head so your face is looking at the ceiling. Hold for three to four seconds, then rotate your head to the right. Repeat the whole process two to three times.

Shoulder Shrugs

Shoulder shrugs are another simple exercise you can perform sitting at your desk or at home on the couch. Sit up straight in your chair and relax your arms at your sides. Take a deep breath in and focus on relaxing your shoulder muscles. Shrug your shoulders by bringing them up as high as you can. Tighten the muscles in your shoulders as you do the shrug, and hold for five to 10 seconds. Relax your shoulder muscles and let them drop to the starting position. Repeat five to 10 times.

Neck Wall Exercise

To help strengthen the muscles in your neck rather than just help them relax, try the neck wall exercise. Stand with your back to a sturdy wall. Place the back of your head against the wall. Relax your shoulder muscles and place your hands at your sides. Push back on the wall with your head, using your neck muscles. Push as hard as you can and hold for 10 to 15 seconds, then relax. Repeat two to three more times as part of your neck and upper back exercise routine.

About the Author

James Patterson specializes in health and wellness topics, having written and produced material for the National Institutes of Health, the President's Cancer Panel and an Inc. 500 Hall of Fame company. He is also a former sportswriter with writing experience in basketball, baseball, softball, golf and other popular sports.