Sure, you look at the bodybuilders with their bulging necks and think to yourself, “Wow.” Many people think a strong neck is pretty insignificant, or that it’s something only athletes or weight lifters that should bother with neck strengthening. However, being a desk jockey and sitting in front of a computer for hours at a time (guilty!) can also put a major strain on the neck, shoulders, and spine–therefore, you need a strong neck. Also, strengthening and stretching your neck is vital for good posture and for avoiding back pain. How to do it? You’d be surprised! Here are some basic tools for strengthening your neck by stretching your arms.
Using a stationary bar can help you to do stretching exercises for target areas like the arms, deltoids, and trapezius muscles correctly. Any kind of stationary bar will do, from a ballet barre or an exercise bar, which can be mounted to the wall or to a door frame. You can use that to loosen up your chest and shoulders and to relieve tension you may be feeling in your neck. Stand in front of the bar, facing it, holding onto it with one hand at about chest height or lower if necessary. Twist your body toward the arm that is holding onto the bar, until you begin to feel a gentle stretching in your shoulder. Turn your head and look back over your shoulder in order to stretch your neck. Release the stretch and repeat it on the other side.
Doing chin-ups isn’t just about strengthening your arms: the bar can also become a great tool for doing hanging stretches. Hanging stretches are great for opening up the trapezius and deltoid muscle groups, which in turn stretches your neck indirectly. Hanging stretches stretch out the lattisimus dorsi, which often become tight and stiff from too much neck tension. Do a one-arm lat stretch from the chin-up bar by grasping the bar in one hand and letting your body relax. Make sure your feet stay on the floor during that move.
Resistance bands are excellent additions to any home gym, because they can be used for stretching as well as strengthening. Use resistance bands to do seated neck, arm, and chest stretches at home, work, or wherever there is room to stretch your arms out all the way. A proper resistance band stretch for your delts and trapezius muscle groups, hold the resistance band at both ends. Then, raise one of your arms diagonally at a 45 degree angle to the floor over your head, while you stand up straight and arch your back a bit to increase the stretching. Hold it for a couple of breaths, then release and repeat the stretch on the other side.
Stretch-Rite Stretching Aid
Stretch-Rite is a patented stretching aid that you can use to assist in doing a multitude of arm, neck, chest, and shoulder stretches. The Stretch-Rite band looks like a resistance band with adjustable hand grips, which let you alter the length of the band according to your particular measurements; they also let you adjust the tension of the band. For a basic stretch of the chest, shoulders and neck, hold the band in either hand, with the band behind you. Lift your arms slowly above your head, stretching in front of you and making a circle with your arms. Do this in both directions, making the arm circles in front of your body and then in the back.