Exercise is a vital part of treating the spine after injury or surgery. Active therapeutic exercises distribute nutrients into the disc space, joints and soft tissues in the neck. A regular exercise routine helps patients improve mobility and strength, minimize recurrence, and reduces the severity and duration of possible future episodes of neck and arm pain.
What exercises help maintain a healthy back?
Exercises can be divided into three basic groups:
All of these exercises should be performed slowly and comfortably to avoid injury. Remember to breathe naturally and without holding your breath; exhale during exertion and inhale during relaxation.
We strongly recommend that you consult with your physician or physical therapist before beginning any exercise program. The following are general exercises for those with neck and arm symptoms. Modifications may be necessary for specific spine conditions. DO NOT ignore pain. If you feel increased pain or pain spreading to the shoulder and arm, do not continue the activity.
Exercises: Neck Stretches
1. Upper Trapezius Stretch: Sit up tall with good posture keeping shoulders down. Grasp the bottom of the seat with one hand. Slightly turn your ear to your shoulder until a comfortable stretch is felt on the opposite side of the neck. Hold that position for 20 seconds. Repeat to each side 3 times. Perform this exercise 2 times per day.
2. Levator Scapular Stretch: Sit up tall with good posture keeping shoulders down. Grasp the bottom of the seat with one hand. Slightly turn your chin toward your armpit until a comfortable stretch is felt on the opposite side of the neck. Hold that position for 20 seconds. Repeat to each side 3 times. Perform this exercise 2 times per day.
3. Neck Rotation: Rotate head gently and slowly from side to side. Do not turn head completely to either side, keep motion small. Keep chin level with ground without letting chin drop to chest. Repeat 10 times. Perform this exercise 2 times per day.
4. Doorway Stretch: Stand in a doorway with hands and arms out to the side as shown in picture. Keep forearms flat on door frame. Take one step forward with one leg to feel a comfortable stretch in chest region. Hold that position for 10-20 seconds. Repeat 3 times. Perform this exercise 2 times per day.
Exercises: Neck Strengthening
1. Shoulder Scapular Squeeze: Squeeze your shoulder blades together as shown in the picture. Hold 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times. Only squeeze hard enough to encourage good posture, not to create pain or discomfort. Perform this exercise 2 times per day
2. Wall Push Up: Start with feet approximately shoulder width apart. Place hands against wall slightly below shoulder level and elbows straight as shown in the picture. Bend elbows while keeping head in a neutral position. Repeat 10 times with 1-2 sets. Perform this exercise 2 times per day.
3. Theraband™ Rows: Place Theraband around a doorknob, or tie a knot in the Theraband and close it in the door. Anchor the band at chest level. Stand tall with each end of Theraband in your hands, knees slightly bent, abdominal muscles tight. Maintaining tight trunk muscles, pull arms back while squeezing