Neck & Upper Back Stretch
Sit on a chair, bench, etc. that is somewhat firm and ideally has something to hold onto, such as a chair leg. Sit towards the edge or at least avoid relaxing against a back rest. The key to this stretch is maintaining good upright posture (flat back, spine in neutral position).
There are a few different ways to do the stretch, depending on how healthy/strong your neck muscles are. Always be conservative with neck stretches, because neck muscles are easy to overstretch and a stretch that’s too intense will be counterproductive and could cause an injury.
Option 1: Begin the stretch by turning your head about 45 degrees to one side. Then, while keeping your back flat, let your head drop straight down towards the ground. If you turn your head to the left, you should feel a stretch on the right side of your neck that stretches down into your upper back.
Option 2: If you don’t feel much of a stretch with this version, the next step is to hold on to something (chair leg, side of a bench, etc.) For example, if you are stretching the right side of your neck, your head will move to the left and you should hold on to something with your right hand.
Option 3: If that still doesn’t give you a stretch, add a slight pull with your other hand. Take the hand that isn’t holding on and put it on the top/back of your head. Then you can add a little pressure with your hand, but it only works well if you pull straight down. It might be tempting to pull your head to the side or rotate your neck while doing this, but that puts the wrong type of pressure on your neck.
Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds and stop if you feel any discomfort. If the stretch doesn’t feel right, you may be pulling too hard or in the wrong direction or you may have too much curve in your back.