People tend to roll their heads to alleviate pain caused by stress, headache or bad posture. Head rolls are effective, but before you start to twirl your head around like a lariat, stop and consider what you might be doing to your neck. The muscles in your neck and shoulders are connected, so too much stress and the accompanying hunching of your shoulders up toward your ears can weaken those muscles. In addition, your head is propped up by a stem that contains the most delicate disks of your spine. Strengthen your neck muscles before performing slow head rolls.
Things You'll Need
- Hard-back chair
Sit tall in a hard-back chair with your feet planted on the floor. Ease your shoulder blades down your back and adjust your head so that it is in line with your neck. Look straight ahead.
Keep your shoulders facing toward the front as you slowly turn your head to the left. Pause, and then keep your shoulders immobile as you slowly turn your head all the way to the left. As your head turns, the muscles on one side of the neck are contracting while being stretched on the other side. This action has the two-fold effect of increasing circulation to the neck muscles while strengthening them.
Deepen the stretch by hooking your right arm over the back of the chair as you turn your head to the left. Repeat with your left arm while looking to the right.
Lower your chin slowly toward your chest. Take two breaths and then lift your head back up to a neutral position.
Lower your head slowly to the left. Don’t force your head into a deeper stretch; just stop when the stretch on the right side of your neck feels pleasant. Take two breaths and then return your head to the neutral position.
Drop your head back slowly. Take two breaths, return your head to the neutral position and then repeat the maneuver on the right side. You can complete up to five full circuits in this counter-clockwise direction and then up to five in a clockwise fashion.
Perform a continuous head roll. Drop your chin slowly toward your chest. Inhale as you move your head seamlessly and slowly to the left and to the back. Exhale as you continue to roll your head to the right and then back to the front. Complete up to five rolls counter-clockwise and then up to five in a clockwise direction.
Tips & Warnings
- In addition to practicing the neck-strengthening exercises and slow head rolls, work on your posture while standing and sitting. If you feel your neck craning forward at any time during the day, make a conscious effort to shoot your shoulder blades down your back and lift your head so that it sits on your neck in a neutral position.
- If you suffer from chronic neck pain or have suffered an injury to the disks in your neck, consult your doctor before performing head rolls. You may be directed to complete other exercises that will promote stability in your neck.
- Yoga for Wellness; Gary Kraftsow
- Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images