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How To Loosen Up A Stiff Neck

3 Neck Stretches To Help You Out With Neck Stiffness!

Posted by Fitness_Oriented - July 12th, 2015

What’s up Herman Nation! Jeff here again from the YouTube channel Fitness Oriented! Today I’m going to give you 3 great stretches you can do for a stiff neck. Whether your neck is stiff from a heavy workout at the gym or looking at your laptop too much, these stretches will help you out a lot!

In this article, I’m going to explain to you briefly how the Upper Traps, Levator Scapulae, and Scalene muscles at your neck become tight. I will have a video near the end of the article that will explain EXACTLY how to stretch these muscles. I will also have a BONUS video at the end of the article showing you an awesome neck self-massage tool! So without further ado, let me talk about the 3 above muscles that very commonly become stiff in your neck.

How The Upper Traps Become Stiff (Stretch Video Further Down)

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As you can see from the picture above, the Trapezius muscle consists of an upper part, middle part, and lower part. The upper traps very commonly become stiff on people. A very common reason for this is looking down at a laptop or cellphone too often. When one does this, their head is tilted downwards. When this happens, your upper traps will have to contract to stabilize your head. This done over long periods of time can lead to this muscle becoming very tight. Also, if one does a lot of shoulder shrugs in thegym and neglects stretching, these muscles can become tight as well and lead to a stiff neck.

How The Levator Scapulae Becomes Stiff (Stretch Video Further Down)

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The Levator Scapulae muscle originates from the side of your neck and attaches to the top inner part of your shoulder blade. A major role of this muscle is doing exactly what its name indicates, elevating up your shoulder blade. This muscle can easily become stiff on people, however. One way it becomes stiff is similar to how the Upper Traps get stiff. When you are looking down at an object, like your phone or laptop, the Levator Scapulae will have to contract to stabilize your head. Also, if your shoulders are elevated while doing an activity, such as typing on a keyboard while your arms are raised on the armrests of your chair, this muscle can easily become tight, which will cause you to have a stiff neck.

How The Scalenes Become Stiff (Stretch Video Further Down)

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The Scalene muscles originate from the side of your neck and attach to your 1st and 2nd ribs. A common way these muscles get tight are from you being stressed. When you are stressed out, you tend to breathe less from your belly and more from your chest. A role of the Scalenes is to elevate your 1st and 2nd ribs. This will help you to get more air into your lungs. So, if you are constantly stressed and breathing more shallowly, these muscles will be working harder and will become stiff. A second way these muscles can get stiff is from you being in bad posture with your head forward, which will tighten these muscles over time.

How To Stretch The Scalenes, Levator Scapulae, and Upper Traps

In this short video, I will be explaining to you how to stretch these 3 muscles, which will help significantly with neck stiffness!

BONUS Video: A Great Self-Massage Tool For Your Neck

It is true that the 3 stretches up above will go far in terms of helping you with a stiff neck. However, the more tools at your disposal, the better! In this video here, I will be explaining to you how to use a TheraCane and why it is so useful. Combining this tool with the 3 neck stretches I showed you how to do in the previous video should go a long way towards treating a stiff neck!

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Great tips I need to incorporate these in to my routine!


Massage Therapist! Great Article dude!


love the shark hat! lol. And yes i think people generally don't stretch enough. Great Article as usual =)

crood  Edit  Delete  Close

So true, you see them run into the gym and out in no time.. because they seem to think stretching is for ladies only haha :) But look at professionals they all do their stretching and they know for certain why it is so important!

Fitness_Oriented  Edit  Delete  Close

Haha, I got a lot of interesting hats!  I especially think men don't stretch enough....and I'm glad you always like what I write :-)


Neck muscles are the most annoying for me. My right trap is bigger, and also tighter than my left.

Fitness_Oriented  Edit  Delete  Close

I think hand dominance plays a role in people having one trap larger than the other, or at least that is what I recall reading.  But yeah, neck muscles are sure a pain in the butt!


Oh yes, this is what causes most of my headaches lol

Fitness_Oriented  Edit  Delete  Close

Just keep on doing that stretching and hopefully that helps you out!


Just the other day a bloke was asking me about stiffness in his neck. I'm gonna show this to him! 

Fitness_Oriented  Edit  Delete  Close

Yes, share it!  I think these stretches will help him out.


Good article on dealing with the different parts of the Traps that become stiff @fitness_oriented. To add to what you have said, another thing that can cause a stiff neck can be a cervical vertebrae out of alignment or even, in my case, an upper-thoracic vertebrae out of alignment that radiated/referred pain up into my neck. 

The one tool a like using to massage my neck is a knobbler.Image titleAlso, a TENS unit has given me some relief for minor fatigue in my neck.  A stiff-neck can also be caused by Torticollis.  Using warm compresses and doing stretches like you have mentioned works great correcting this problem.  My son had this and took some time to correct the issue. 

Fitness_Oriented  Edit  Delete  Close

Ahhh, I have seen that tool, I think it works well, and a TENS unit can certainly provide relief for neck stiffness.  Torticollis is usually associated with an EXTREMELY stiff neck and requires very aggressive treatment.  


When you have to turn your whole body just to talk to the person next to know you have problems! :D

Nice article @fitness_oriented! People probably don't think about stretching their necks much.

Fitness_Oriented  Edit  Delete  Close

I'm glad you liked the article!  I really don't think people consider stretching their neck enough...which is one of the reasons why so many people have issues there.


Great article Jeff.  A Stiff neck is no joke.  It can ruin your whole week, not just you lifting in the gym!

Fitness_Oriented  Edit  Delete  Close

Indeed it can!  I was on a roller coaster once going down the biggest drop, and my sister grabbed the back of my neck in a vice-like grip.  My neck was stiff and achey for the rest of the week!


I used to have terrible headaches and vertigo from this. Thankfully its resolved now!

Fitness_Oriented  Edit  Delete  Close

Working out can indeed do wonders for the body....I'm glad your trap pain went away for the most part, because usually pain in that area is extremely stubborn.

crood  Edit  Delete  Close

I remember i always had really bad trap pain from sitting on computers all day long. it completely went away when i started working out. I get it occasionally only when the traps are a bit sore but it never lasts long. It's such a relieve.

Fitness_Oriented  Edit  Delete  Close

That sucks, vertigo is certainly no fun!  You likely had cervicogenic dizziness...and I'm glad you got it resolved from stretching!