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Stretch of the Week: Self Neck Traction

by Athletico1 Comment

The focus of June’s weekly stretches will be on the neck muscles. We have quite a few muscles, ranging from very tiny to very large, that attach into the neck area. If these muscles become tight they can cause a host of problems, from small headaches to more severe problems like tingling in the hands. Stretching the neck muscles can be a starting place to address these issues.

For the first week of June’s, we will be performing the Self Neck Traction stretch. This stretch targets the muscles that attach into the base of the skull all the way down to the mid back. You will need to use two hands to perform this stretch. If you have had prior neck surgery or other neck injuries, please skip this week’s stretch. Also, if you experience an increase in symptoms or have any new symptoms, including but not limited to pain, lightheadedness or numbness or tingling in the arms or hands, discontinue the stretch and consult with your physician.

How to perform:

  1. You can perform this stretch standing or sitting. With your hands, feel for two prominent bony bumps at the back of the skull, as shown in the top photo. These are the occipital points where several muscles attach. Place the base of your thumbs on these points and interlace the fingers, as shown in the middle photo.
  1. Gently squeeze your hands around the base of your skull. Still squeezing, gently press and move the hands up. You can tilt the chin toward the chest (see photo labeled “side view”) at the same time as you do this small movement for more stretch, as shown in the bottom photo. This traction will help lengthen the cervical spine, as well as stretch the muscles down into the mid back area.
  1. Stay in this position for 30 seconds. You can repeat 3-5 times. Then, gently release your hands from your head.

Stretch of the Week: Self Neck Traction Stretch of the Week: Self Neck Traction












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The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

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1 Comment

  1. Debbie Delmar

    I had 11 sessions of physical therapy for an “angry joint” in my neck. The traction was the best part of the sessions. I have been looking for a way to do it myself and this is the BEST exercise!

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