Gentle Stretches for Pinched Nerves and Neck Pain

A pinched nerve is a damaged or compressed nerve. It occurs when a nerve root is damaged or inflamed. A nerve root is part of the nerve branches off from the spinal cord. A pinched nerve can occur at any part of the spine, including the neck, thoracic or lumbar spine. A pinched nerve in the neck can result in radiculopathy, which symptoms may include numbness, tingling, weakness, and pain in the arm. 

Pinched nerve symptoms

Pinched nerves affect around 85 out of 100,000 adults. It is most common in people of age between 50-54. The symptoms of pinched nerves range from mild to severe. But it is still possible to have a pinched nerve without symptoms, which may include:

  • pins and needles
  • pain that radiates outward
  • pain when moving your neck or head
  • poor neck motion

Exercises For a Pinched Nerve in the Neck

A pinched nerve in the neck may feel like pins and needles, which can traverse to the shoulder, arm, or hand, making them feel weak. Severe cases of a pinched nerve in the neck may require medical care, but you can try these exercises for milder symptoms. But to prevent further nerve damage, they must be performed slowly, and you can do them while sitting down or standing up.

Trap stretch

The muscles at the back of your neck are called trapezius muscles. When they are too tight, they can narrow your spine and pinch your nerves. Doing this exercise will loosen muscles and release the trapped nerves.

  1. Put your right hand beneath your thigh.
  2. Bend your head gently to the left side using your left hand.
  3. Pause for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times on each side.

Chin tuck

Works on the neck muscles by reducing the tension by lengthening your neck. It can also improve posture in the neck and head.

  1. Place your fingers on your chin.
  2. Gently push your chin toward your neck until you create a “double chin.”
  3. Hold it for five seconds. Relax.
  4. Repeat it 3-5 times.

You may do it without using your fingers once you get comfortable with the move.

Chin tuck with extension

Add an extra stretch to the chin tuck; it will help stretch your neck in various directions. It might cause dizziness to some people, so you should avoid it if you have dizziness issues.

  1. Pull your head back to do a chin tuck.
  2. Slowly tilt your head up to the ceiling.
  3. Return to the chin tuck. Relax.
  4. Repeat two sets of five repetitions.

Head turn

A pinched nerve could decrease the neck’s range of motion. Performing this exercise in a slow and controlled manner. If you feel any pain, try to do it in smaller movements.

  1. Straighten your head and neck. Look ahead.
  2. Turn your head slowly to the right, pause for 5-10 seconds.
  3. Do the same to the left, pause for 5-10 seconds.
  4. Tilt your head from side to side and up and down.

Neck bend

Neck bends will provide relief to a pinched nerve in the neck. This stretch should also be done slowly.

  1. Move your chin down slowly toward your chest.
  2. Pause and return to starting position
  3. Repeat 5-10 times.

Shoulder roll

Shoulder rolls can help release tension in both shoulders and neck. IT can help relieve pain from a pinched nerve.

  1. Lift your shoulder blades up and roll them back and down.
  2. Repeat 5-6 times.
  3. Repeat in the opposite position.

Lateral bend

  1. Sit up tall and relax your shoulders
  2. Tilt your head to one side slowly like you are going to touch your ear to your shoulder.
  3. Hold your position for 30 seconds and relax.
  4. Repeat 3-5 throughout the day.

Scalene stretch

  1. Sit up tall and relax your shoulders.
  2. Grasp the chair you are sitting in using your left hand and let your shoulder blade move down.
  3. Bend your right ear down gently to your right shoulder and a little backward.
  4. Hold this form for 30 seconds, rest and repeat 3-5 times for the whole day.

Neck rotation

  1. Sit tall and rest your shoulders.
  2. Turn your head slightly to the side. Avoid twisting your neck, and don’t over rotate your head behind.
  3. Turn your head to the side slowly.
  4. Hold each position for 30 seconds.
  5. Repeat 3-5 times throughout the day.

If you have pinched nerve and neck pain, these stretches and exercises can provide relief by decompressing the nerve or loosening tight muscles. 

Other Pinched Nerve Treatments

Aside from stretches, there are other treatments that you can try for pinched nerves. These movements can decompress nerves, relax tight muscles, and lessen pain. If you have mild symptoms, you may find relief from these:

  • rest
  • soft cervical collar
  • hot or cold compress
  • acupuncture
  • massage
  • practicing good posture
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • yoga

Other severe cases need medical attention.

When to See a Doctor

Pinched nerves can heal on their own, but they may take days, weeks, or months. Ask for medical care if your symptoms don’t go away with home treatments if they get severe or worse. 

A doctor can refer you to a physical therapist, depending on your symptoms. A physical therapist can illustrate the best stretches for pinched nerves for your type of symptoms.

The Takeaway

Both active and passive treatment have a significant positive impact on pain and disability than not receiving any treatment at all. Stretching benefits people with pinched nerves, but remember that the goal of stretching is to stop the pain and not increase it. It is still possible to participate in your usual activities, but it is important to modify these exercises to keep your neck pain-free. If the pain increases with stretching, stop immediately. Visit a chiropractor to help show you the right stretches for your symptoms.

Dr. Kistler, with his hands-on-technique and state-of-the-art chiropractic procedures, is committed to promoting his patients’ health and well-being through effective treatments that will help them heal as quickly and thoroughly as possible. If you are suffering from back or neck pain, get in touch with Dr. Kistler and schedule a session today.

Recent Posts...