Tight muscles in your neck and chest can cause poor neck posture. Weak muscles in your neck and upper back can also cause a forward head and rounded shoulders, two postural distortions that must be corrected for good neck posture. Neck exercises and stretches will improve your posture, says physical therapist Miye Fonseca on neckexercises.net. Fonseca recommends the arm swing-up exercise. Both Fonseca and "Dr. Charles" Inniss on ab-core-and-stomach-exercises.com say neck stretches and strengthening exercises should be done several times a day for posture improvement. Dr. Charles, a physical therapist and personal trainer, suggests exercises such as the chin tuck and sternocleidomastoid (SCM) stretch.
Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. The arm swing-up exercise strengthens the muscles in the back of your neck isometrically to promote correct neck posture. It will also strengthen the muscles of your upper back and stretch your chest muscles, says Fonseca. Hold your arms relaxed at your sides. Pull your head back so your neck is in line with your spine. Look forward and keep your chin parallel to the floor.
Place your palms together in front of your legs with your arms straight. Lift your arms straight up over your head. Pull your shoulders back as far as you can so your elbows and biceps go behind your head, but only if you can do so without allowing your neck to jut forward. Remain in this position for 10 seconds.
Bring your arms back down in front of your body with your palms still together. Repeat and do 10 reps total.
Stand up straight to do the chin tuck exercise, which is the most important exercise for neck posture, says Dr. Charles.
Slide your head forward with your chin parallel to the floor to mimic a forward head posture.
Pull your head back as far as you can, without changing the angle of your chin, to do one chin tuck. Perform 5 to 10 reps and one to three sets.
Front Neck Stretch
Sit in a chair or stand up straight to stretch the SCM muscle in the front of your neck. The SCM is the tightest neck muscle, Dr. Charles says. Rotate your head to the right and look up at the ceiling. Your chin should be pointing up at approximately a 45-degree angle.
Place your left palm lightly on the top of your head above your right ear and gently pull your head toward your left shoulder. Your elbow will be bent. Keep your chin pointing upward.
Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds and then do the left side. Stretch the SCM daily, recommends Dr. Charles.