5 Gentle Exercises to Help You Avoid Back and Neck Pain

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neck and back painEveryone has or will experience back and neck pain once in their adult lives. It’s literally “a pain in the neck” to start or end your day with annoying, distracting pain in these areas.  Causes can range from whiplash, pinched nerve to more serious causes such as loss of bladder or bowel control and unexplained weight loss. Anxiety and stress can also sometimes cause tension in your neck muscles, which can lead to pain in your neck.

In most instances, patients find that they can live pain-free with two specific lifestyle modifications – attention to “sitting posture” and the incorporation of a daily exercise routine. When starting out, go gently to get used to the movements and work out how far you can go into each position without feeling pain. Aim to do these stretches/exercises at least once a day if the pain allows. You can complement these with walking, cycling and water-based activities.

Downward Dog at the Wall

Stand facing a wall with your hands at waist-height. Walk your feet back into a table top position with your feet directly underneath your hips. Lift the sitting bones towards the sky as you press the hands into the wall. Feel as if your heart is melting towards the floor. If you feel a great deal of stretching in the hamstrings, keep the knees slightly bent. Hold for six deep breaths, focusing on opening the chest and lengthening the spine.

Arms Overhead With Strap

Using a yoga strap or belt, take your arms overhead, shoulder-distance apart. Make sure the palms face away from each other. If you cannot straighten your elbows in this position, take the arms wider on the belt. Drop the chin into the chest in order to relax the neck muscles and pull the strap apart. Hold for six deep breaths and repeat two times.

“The Clock” (Pec Stretch)

Stand along side a wall and place your right hand up on the wall to 12 o’clock. Slowly move your hand from 12 to 1, 2 and finally to the position at 3 o’clock. Take your left hand and place it on the right rib cage. Take a deep inhalation and as you exhale, pull the rib cage forward without moving the right arm. You should feel a stretch in front of the right shoulder or down the right arm. Hold for six deep breaths. To intensify the stretch, move closer to the wall. Repeat on the other side. If there is any tingling in the arm, move away from the wall until it resolves or discontinue the exercise.

Pelvic tilts

Stretches and strengthens the lower back

Start position: Lie on your back. Place a small, flat cushion or book under your head. Bend your knees and keep your feet straight and hip-width apart. Keep your upper body relaxed and your chin gently tucked in.

Action: Gently flatten your low back into the floor and contract your stomach muscles. Now tilt your pelvis towards your heels until you feel a gentle arch in your lower back, feeling your back muscles contracting and return to the starting position.

Repeat 10 to 15 times, tilting your pelvis back and forth in a slow rocking motion.


  • Keep your deep abdominals working throughout.
  • Don’t press down through the neck, shoulders or feet.

Knee rolls

Stretches and mobilizes the spine

Start position: Lie on your back. Place a small flat cushion or book under your head. Keep your knees bent and together. Keep your upper body relaxed and your chin gently tucked in.

Action: Roll your knees to one side, followed by your pelvis, keeping both shoulders on the floor. Hold the stretch for one deep breath and return to the starting position.

Repeat 8 to 10 times, alternating sides.


  • Only move as far as feels comfortable.
  • Place a pillow between your knees for comfort.

Bonus neck exercise:  gently tense your neck muscles as you tilt your head up and down and from side to side, and as you carefully twist your neck from left to right; these exercises will help strengthen your neck muscles and improve your range of movement.

To get some additional information or advice on neck and back pain, or if you find this to be a chronic condition, please feel free to reach out to Dr. Sahoury and his staff at Above and Beyond Holistic Wellness at 201-265-0555. Our approach is holistic and we offer a wide variety of treatment options for you.

To your health and wellness,
Dr. Roger Sahoury

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