How To Relieve Neck And Shoulder Tension

Neck pain sucks.

I wearily dug my hand into my shoulder yet again, trying in vain to release the tension that had been settling there for the last hour. Neck pain and I were best friends. We’d been that way for a while and I didn’t appreciate the “friendship”…

Until a decade ago, when the pain stopped.

That was when I unlocked the right combination of knowledge, movement, and drills to solve my neck and shoulder tension for good.

And not only my neck pain. Some of my coaching clients had neck pain and shoulder tension. So I shared the methods and knowledge with them. And it worked for them, too.

In this post, I’ll share with you the insights and knowledge you need to start solving your neck pain and shoulder tension for good*.

*I will always remind you that if you have pain that concerns you, see a doctor.

Should I Stretch My Neck?

Hand on head, yanking my skull down toward my shoulder, I stretched yet again, hoping it would relieve my pain. It never did.

Here’s why stretching alone doesn’t solve your neck pain:

Stretching mechanically lengthens the muscle, but does not teach your brain how to control that new length. And since your brain is always trying to protect you, it will not give you more range of motion if it thinks you cannot control the tissue.

Stretching a muscle can actually do the very opposite of what you’re trying to achieve – making the very muscle you’re trying to make less tight, tighter.

tight muscles, why are they tight?

This is the part where everyone throws their hands up because, ‘well jeez, if stretching doesn’t make your muscles feel better, what are we supposed to do then?’

The solution is to use active inputs, in addition to passive, to teach your nervous system how to expand, control, support, and strengthen, new ranges of motion.

This part of the discussion goes much deeper, save this article for more on that, but for now you know that stretching is a passive input and passive inputs alone do not make real or lasting change.blond woman sitting at a table rubbing her neck and looking tired

How Do I Ease My Neck And Shoulder Pain?

In addition to adding in drills and activities to improve how your neck and shoulder tissues function, you also want to take note of how you position your head and shoulders.

Your soft tissues and joints respond to the signals they receive.

What that means is that if you spend the majority of your day with your shoulders slightly scrunched up into your neck, those tissues that are being flexed in that position will become more proficient at flexing in that position.

The things you do most frequently are what your body will get better at doing, so take note of the various states of repose you find yourself in during your day. Here’s a quick list of a few common positions you may find yourself in each day.

1) Staring At Your Computer Screen


This is the obvious one that most everyone knows about by now, yet it still needs a giant flood light focused on it since we spend so much time at computers. You can do all of the “postural work” you want, but spending a vast majority of your day in one position, the movement training is but a drop in the bucket of the ‘body position ocean’.

Get up and move for a few minutes every hour or so. I know you’re busy, but you can do this.

2) Staring At The Rectangle In Your Hand


Like every other human while you wait for the train, the bus, your kids, the guy in front of you at the take out restaurant – you’re tipping your head over like a teapot to watch cat videos on the internet.

Change how you hold and look at your phone by raising the screen up to your eye level.

3) Exercising And Just Realizing Now That You’ve Never Thought About Your Head Or Neck Position During Workouts

Your muscles are linked together, firing in harmony and support of each other. Your exercise is a time for you to spend in a conscious, controlled environment working on your muscular strength and organization – so that when you’re in the real world, an unconscious, uncontrolled environment, you can respond with strength and control.

Take note of where your head and shoulders are at when doing your exercises or activities. If you think you need to make some improvements in your technique, but don’t know how, consult with a coach.

4) Sleeping 

Sleep should be restorative and restful, but far too many folks suffer with jaw clenching, neck muscle tensing, and shoulder squeezing. Each of these alone and in rare occurrence may not become a problem. But if you wake up tense or sore or with a headache, it’s worth looking at how you’re sleeping.

A great pillow won’t work if you’re continually holding extra tension while you lay on it.

What’s A Simple Routine To Help Your Neck And Shoulders?

I teach seven activities you can do each day as a simple routine for your neck and shoulders in my online workshop, Kiss Neck And Shoulder Tension Goodbye.

In the workshop, I’ll take you through an in-depth teaching session and movement lesson. You’ll learn the deeper knowledge behind why your neck and shoulders might hurt, and most importantly, how to create neck and shoulders that feel great.

I’ll teach you specific movement drills, and you’ll get the knowledge you need to make your neck and shoulder tension a thing of the past. Over 1500 people have used the workshop, join them! And start healing your neck and shoulders today.

Get the Kiss Neck And Shoulder Tension Goodbye Workshop

screenshot of the workshop title slide

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