Exercises to Relax Neck & Shoulder Muscles

Exercises to relax neck and shoulder muscles are designed to reduce tension in your neck and shoulders, as well as your upper back. Chiropractors and massage therapists can help reduce inflammation and relax your muscles, but individual exercises can achieve the same relaxing results.

Front-to-Back Tilt

This neck exercise relaxes your neck muscles, indirectly improving your range of motion in your upper shoulders and neck. Sit straight with your gaze facing forward and your feet flat on the ground. With your arms at your sides, tilt your head backward as far as you can. Hold this position for several seconds before slowly returning to your original pose. Repeat this exercise five to 10 times before resting. According to the University of Maryland, this exercise should be repeated three times a day for best results.

Shoulder Swing

This shoulder exercise loosens your shoulder muscles and helps relax your lower neck muscles. Lie on your stomach on the edge of a bed with one arm hanging off the side. With your head and neck rotated to one side so your cheek is flush on the bed, begin swinging your arm forward and back. Start the motion at a 15-degree angle and gradually move it to a 45-degree angle. As you change the angle, increase the distance your arm goes with each swing. Repeat with both arms.

Side Twist

The side twist is specifically designed to relax and stretch your neck. Lie on one side with a pillow under your head and your legs bent in a fetal position. If lying on your right side, bend your left arm at the elbow, allowing it to rest lightly on your side. From this position, breathe in, simultaneously rotating your neck and head away from the bed. Rotate as far as you can and hold this stretch for several seconds. Return to your original position and repeat. Perform the exercise while lying on both of your sides before finishing.

Chasing Spiders

This exercise is designed for people who are recovering from frozen shoulders and looking to relax their neck and shoulder muscles. Stand in front of a wall with your knees slightly bent and both palms touching the wall. From this position, walk up the wall with both of your fingers, as if following an imaginary spider. Continue to creep up the wall until you feel a stretch in your back and neck. Slowly return back down and repeat two to three times, trying to get higher each time.