There are many day-to-day activities that can result to neck stiffness and pain. This is where neck rolls come in. Learning how to do them can help avoid this situation.
Neck rolls, also known as neck circles serve to stretch your neck by stretching and extending the neck muscles. They can help you relieve tightness and soreness in your neck and upper back muscles and also decompress the vertebrae that results from tension.
Generally, these rolls are relatively simple and do not require any special equipment. Additionally, they can also be done at anytime even as random as in between tight schedules at work.
Read on for more information on this simple exercise including: the proper way to perform it, the benefits it comes with, other exercises that can work the same muscles and common mistakes that may put you at risks while performing this exercise.
HOW TO DO NECK ROLLS PROPERLY
As it is, neck related pain can reduce your ability to work or even enjoy your leisure time.
However, learning the simple technique of this simple but effective routine is one way to maintain your neck’s flexibility and reduce minor pain caused by neck strain.
Below is a detailed guideline that will help you navigate this exercise with the right form, from beginning to end.
START THE ROLL WITH YOUR HEAD FACING STRAIGHT AHEAD
This is the start position for the neck roll exercise. Hold your head straight and your gaze forward.
You are advised to consult your doctor first if you have any pre-conditions, before starting this exercise.
Try to notice any tension that may exist in your muscles, especially your trapezius, located at the bottom of your shoulders.
ROLL TO ONE SIDE
From the first step above, gently tip your head to one side, in this case your left.
Be sure to pay attention to the feeling in your neck during this movement as this will help you in performing the rest of the steps safely.
If this step is painful, and your neck doesn’t feel right, stop the exercise immediately as this could not be the right stretch for you.
ROLL YOUR HEAD BACK
In a controlled motion, gently roll your head to the back with your eyes facing the ceiling.
Similar to the side movement step above, monitor any pain and discomfort and adjust your intensity accordingly.
This step of the neck roll will strengthen and challenge your back neck muscles while stretching those at the front.
ROLL TO THE OTHER SIDE
With your head back, gently proceed to roll your head to the right side, as in the progress to complete a circular shape.
Again, monitor yourself in terms of pain and discomfort in order to remain in the safe zone.
Rolling to this side will see you stretching the neck muscles located on the opposite side from which you are moving (left) while contracting those in the side of which you are rolling to (right)
ROLL TO THE FRONT
Gently roll your head to the front so that your chin is facing down and a little toward the front of your neck.
This step will see you stretching your back neck muscles and contract those at the front of your neck.
RETURN TO THE STARTING POSITION
With your head facing slightly downwards, complete the final step of this exercise by bringing your head back to the initial starting position, where your gaze is forward.
COMMON NECK ROLLS MISTAKES TO AVOID
Avoid jerky or rigid movements. Be keen to maintain your movements slow and fluid, such as there is smooth transitions in between the different side rolls.
Avoid holding your breath. You are strongly advised to keep breathing throughout this routine. If in any case you notice that your breathing has changed, find out which stage of the rolling this happens and whether it is related to pain.
WHAT MUSCLES DO NECK ROLLS WORK?
Below are the muscles engaged in this exercise.
The trapezius muscles, commonly known as the traps is a muscle that begins at the base of your neck and goes across your shoulders, extending to the middle of your back.
This muscle facilitates the movement of your head, neck and arms. Additionally, it also stabilises your spine, thus helping with posture.
This routine will also work most muscles of your neck either through compression or stretching. It will work most of the three main muscle groups of your neck, which include: anterior neck muscles, lateral neck muscles, and posterior neck muscles.
NECK MUSCLES BENEFITS
If you spend most of your time sitting in front of a screen and often develop neck tightness, neck roll can come in handy to keep your neck muscles flexible and reduce and prevent neck strain.
Neck rolls are an excellent way to relieve neck tension and are a great warm up t your neck before a workout. They are especially important when you will be tucking in your chins most of the times, as in boxing or martial arts.
The neck rolls are also an excellent cool-down exercise after demanding exercises such as lifting weights.
This is because most strength training exercises may cause stress on your traps and neck. A cool-down exercises afterwards such as the neck rolls will help bring movement back to these areas.
NECK ROLLS ALTERNATIVES
Below are alternative exercises that will see you equally working your neck muscles as in the neck rolls.
PARTIAL NECK CIRCLES
Also referred to as partial neck rolls, these rolls will see you doing the neck rolls partially, avoiding a painful or an uncomfortable side of your neck.
NECK ROLLS WITH PRESSURE
This alternative will see you applying a bit of pressure to your normal neck rolls with the use of your fingertips.
Before starting this exercise, take time to consult with your doctor if you have any pre- existing conditions or experience pain in the middle of the set.