Neck Pain and Moves to Melt it Away!

Neck Pain and Moves to Melt it Away!

Your neck is here for you! It orients your head to see beautiful scenes, rock out to music, and eat good food. So neck discomfort is particularly annoying as it can make it hard to enjoy all those things, as well as to focus on your work or workout. And because of the network of nerves and muscles in the area, it can lead to a plethora of other symptoms like headaches, dizziness and eye strain.

This blog will give you a better understanding where neck pain can come from, helpful cues to incorporate into your daily movement and postures, and simple exercises to help free your neck.

Why am I in pain?

Where you feel tension and discomfort is oftentimes not where the problem is coming from. When one part of the body is not moving well, the body often compensates by moving or overloading another part of the body (like your neck!), and that part of the body is often where you start to feel symptoms.

So for a faster and more sustainable recovery, we need to find and treat the cause! Common origin stories for neck tension include:

  1. Inefficient breathing patterns
  2. Stiff thoracic spine (read: mid-back)
  3. Prolonged periods of straining postures

Juicy habits for your neck:

These are tips to incorporate into your everyday movements and postures. Make a habit of regularly checking in with your body to see how your breathing, chin and pelvis are situated.


Imagine how a baby breathes (beautiful belly ballooning) vs. how an angry person breathes (chest heaving and shoulder rising). Our main breathing muscle is the diaphragm, shaped like an umbrella and located at the bottom of our rib cage. When we inhale, our bellies should rise and expand.

We also have accessory muscles in our neck and shoulder that assist with breathing. The problem is, when we’re stressed or slouched, we tend to use those muscles as the primary muscles of breathing. Then, we end up with our neck and shoulders rising more than our bellies when we inhale. This may lead to overuse and strain of those muscles, an underused and stiff diaphragm, and core muscle imbalances. 

Action: Breathe in and out slowly through your nose, gently aim to create a 360° expansion of our lower rib cage with your inhale, and full deflation and relaxation with your exhale.

Chin tuck: 

As you sit, stand or move, aim to gently tuck your chin into your throat. This reduces compression to the neck, elongates the small muscles of the base of the skull, and returns your neck and jaw muscles to their happiest position.

Pro tip: This is especially important to do when you’re looking up, side-bending or turning your head.


Check the tilt! If you’re sitting or standing with your tailbone too tucked under, this rounds out your lower back. It then becomes very difficult to position your neck for success. Stay tall!

Juicy moves for your neck:

Start by breathing… Inhale… Exhale… Stay relaxed as you melt into these moves. They are made to give your body a sigh of relief. If they cause any discomfort, please refrain from performing them, and shoot us an e-mail or give us a call for modifications that are more appropriate for you!

  1. Stretch Your Diaphragm: Lay on your back with your hips and knees bent, and flatten your low back into the floor. Raise your arms over your head as you inhale through your nose, and keep them there as you exhale through your mouth as much as possible (keep exhaling! This should feel a touch uncomfortable at the end). Repeat 3-5x

Why This Works: The extreme exhale allows your diaphragm to stretch, accessing length that it doesn’t normally access in regular breathing.


Rib Rinse

2. Cactus Spins: Hold your arms out like a cactus, twist your trunk side-to-side. Repeat 10x alternating sides


3. Lateral Slides: Hold your arms out to the side, reach side-to-side. Repeat 10x alternating sides


4. Chest Pumps: Flex and extend your mid-back. Repeat 20x alternating.


5. Monkey Shrugs: Hands on your hips, shrug your shoulders up and back. Hold for 5 seconds, relax, and repeat 5x


6. Arm Spirals: Arms out to the side, simultaneously turn one hand down and the other hand up, allowing that movement to twist through your arms towards your shoulder blade and spine. Repeat 5x alternating sides.


7. Underarms Sniff: Bend your head forward and to the side, as though you’re trying to smell your armpits! Hold 20sec each side.


8. The Double Chin: Retract your head backwards to make a double chin, keeping your eyes level. Repeat 10x.


9. Halfway Around the World: Roll with your head to the side, forward, and then to the other side like you’re drawing a semi-circle. Repeat 5x each direction.


Physiotherapy, Chiropractic, Osteopathy and Massage Therapy at Pure Motion Centre:

In addition to the juicy moves above, your Pure Motion movement specialist can help with your neck pain. Our physiotherapists, chiropractors, osteopaths and massage therapists are trained to assess and treat musculoskeletal conditions and we can develop a personalized treatment plan that combines exercises and other techniques to help reduce pain and improve mobility.

One of the first things we will do is conduct a thorough assessment to determine the cause of your neck pain. We will take into account your medical history, lifestyle, and physical symptoms. We may also perform physical tests, such as range of motion tests, to get a better understanding of your condition.

Based on the assessment, we will create a customized treatment plan that may include a combination of different techniques, including:

    1. Stretching and Strengthening Exercises
    2. Manual Therapy: We are trained in many (many!) advanced techniques including, but not limited to Proprioceptive-Deep Tendon Reflex, NKT, Craniosacral therapy, Anatomy in Motion and acupuncture
    3. Education and Advice: We will guide you through evidence-based education and advice on how to manage your lower back pain. We may also provide tips on posture, ergonomics, and activity modification to help prevent further injury and promote healing.

We are at your service to get you moving and playing with freedom! Let’s get in touch! You can email us at [email protected], or call us at 416-901-7873. Looking forward to moving with you!


This appointment is your opportunity to tell us what hurts and discover whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care is a good fit for you! During this session, you will talk with a physiotherapist or chiropractor on a phone call (or online) and create the right care plan specifically for your pain. There is no obligation on this session is to find out whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care can help you getting back to doing the things you love in life.

About Amy Thieu

Pure Motion Centre Toronto Physiotherapy Amy

One of the first three physiotherapists in Canada to be trained in P-DTR. First physiotherapist in Ontario to be an NKT Certifier and Study Group Leader. Previously a Clinical Instructor for the University of Toronto Department of Physical Therapy, and received the Clinical Instructor Recognition Award. Teaches Functional Anatomy in Studio Blue’s Yoga Teacher Training program.

Medical Disclaimer:

The information presented in this blog post is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, treatment or a diagnosis, consult with a medical professional such as one suggested on this website. The Clinic Accelerator Inc. and the author of this page are not liable for the associated risks of using or acting upon the information contained in this article.

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