Exercises for Neck Stiffness

We all complain of a stiff neck from staring at screens all day. Exercise for neck stiffness helps because it forces you to move your neck through FULL ranges of motion, something often avoided. Here are 3 exercises I give my patients daily for immediate results with better movement and decreased pain.

3 Exercises for Neck Stiffness

  • Neck Retraction
  • Neck Retraction With Side Bend
  • Quadruped Neck Extension

#1 Decrease Neck Stiffness with Retractions

Good for: neck stiffness and pain with movement

  • Sit or stand comfortably
  • Perform a chin RETRACTION (not tuck) like a spider is coming towards your face
  • The back of your neck should get longer, so don’t curl your chin towards your chest

This is a staple exercise at improving neck stiffness and decreasing pain and stiffness with movement.

Perform 10 reps ever 2-3 hours as needed.

#2 Decrease neck stiffness using retractions with side bends

Good for: neck stiffness and that “crick” in your neck pain

  • perform a chin retraction like #1
  • maintain the retraction as you touch your ear to one shoulder, then the other
  • You can use your right hand on your head to gently assist leaning to the right, and same for the left
  • perform 10 both directions, if you are using your hand to assist you can do all 10 on a side before switching

The chin retraction allows you to get a more effective stretch as you tilt you head side to side.

#3 Improve neck stiffness with Quadruped Neck Extensions

Good for: neck pain, strength and stiffness

  • Rest on your hands and knees
  • Alternative position is rest on your elbows leaning over a counter
  • Perform the chin retraction like #1, then gently lift your head up towards the ceiling as high as you can
  • Gently return to the start position
  • Perform 2 sets of 15 reps

This is a simple way to strengthen the muscles of the back of the neck as well as decrease the back of the neck stiffness.

Performing exercises for neck stiffness combined with postural mobility work is our go to strategy for neck care.

Ready to get rid of the neck stiffness forever? These range of motion exercises combined with neck and shoulder strengthening will do the trick.

Tired of feeling stiff?


Three simple exercises for neck stiffness you can do throughout the day. Ideally you take a break from your work and perform 1 exercise, or you can take a longer break and perform all 3.