What is actually giving you a pain in the neck? It might be your spouse, but usually there's an underlying physical issue that's causing your neck muscles to be sore. This can be anything from misaligned hips, spines or shoulders to just looking down too frequently and not giving your head a full range of motion.
All of these issues can cause your neck and upper back muscles to tense up. This doesn't just cause neck pain and stiffness. When neck muscles aren't working the way they should, there are other effects. For example, nerve impulses traveling through the spine can be affected, causing problems with balance and movement. The respiratory system and breathing quality can also be affected.
But exercises can reduce pain and problems in neck muscles. Taking time to do a few quick exercises daily will help take the pressure off load-bearing joints, relieving some of the tension causing your stiffness. It will also strengthen the neck muscles in general.
1: Sitting floor
Sit on the floor with your back against the wall, your legs straight out in front of you, and your feet hips-width apart. Pull your shoulder blades together and down, tighten your thighs, and pull your toes back. Be sure that your feet stay straight up and down. Your head should be touching the wall. Hold for 3 minutes, and repeat as many times as comfortable.
2: Seated neck release
Sit cross-legged on the floor, or in a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Extend your right arm downward to the right with the palm facing down. Placing your left hand on the top of your head, gently tilt your head to the left. For more stretch, hold your right knee or the chair seat with your right hand. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, then slowly lift your head up and repeat on the other side. Repeat the sequence as comfortable.
3: Behind-the-back neck stretch
Stand with your feet separated by the width of your hips, with your arms by your sides. Reach behind you with both hands, and grasp your left wrist with your right hand. Pull gently with your right hand to straighten your left arm and pull it away from you. Lowering your right ear toward your shoulder will increase the stretch. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then do the same with the other side.
4: Wide-leg forward C-bend
Stand with your feet three to four feet apart, with your heels slightly further apart than your toes. Extending your arms straight out behind your back, clasp your fingers and press the heels of your palms together. Bend forward from your hips, moving the top of your head towards the floor, so your hands arc over and towards the wall in front of you. Relax your toes, and try to shift your hips forward so they're lined up with your feet. Hold this position for five breaths. Then press down onto your feet and inhaleas you return to the starting position.
5: Simple Neck Rotation
Start by sitting or standing with your head and neck positioned straight ahead. Then gently turn your head as far to the left as comfortable, and hold for five seconds. Do the same in the opposite direction. Perform one set of 5 repetitions in each direction, twice a day.
As with back pain, a good way to deal with sore neck muscles is to schedule a massage. This both relieves the pain and gives you the opportunity to ask the massage specialist for help in pinning down your problem areas.