How’s your neck feeling right now? If we had to guess, we would say that it’s probably really stiff from all of those rolls you’ve accumulated on the mats up until now… And that you could probably use a little bit of relief; to not have to crack it from side to side in order to have a full range of motion, even for just a brief moment.
That is why you need to stretch it on a regular basis. Let’s talk about why stretching your neck is so important, and then explain 3 stretches that will help you out tremendously.
WHY YOU MUST STRETCH YOUR NECK
If you’ve been following a stretching routine of any kind, then great job! Doing it after training or/and during the day is almost always a must for the sake of injury prevention and for dealing with the muscular imbalances.
You’re probably stretching your arms, your shoulders, your upper back and your core, as well as your legs… But where is the neck in all of that?
It’s easy to neglect the neck because it seems as if it’s not as important to stretch as the other body parts are. However, have you ever heard the phrase: „The location of pain is not necessarily the origin of pain“?
What this means is that just because your knee hurts, for example, it does not have to mean that something is wrong with your knee. Instead, your knee might be taking a beating because your hip flexors are tight. Also, lower back pain doesn’t have to mean that your lower back is at fault; but that your hamstrings are weak.
The same thing is true for your neck. If it gets tight and painful, those sensations will make their presence known in your shoulders and upper back; which will then lead to other issues down the line as well.
Therefore, you should start stretching it as soon and as frequently as possible! Here are the 3 stretches that will work wonders for you.
THE UPPER TRAPEZIUS STRETCH
The upper trapezius muscle’s function is to help you shrug; so it’s no wonder it gets tight in BJJ, as your shoulders remain in a shrugged position for quite some time.
To stretch it, find a comfortable bench and sit on it. Then, stretch your arm out and grab the side of the bench. Now, with your arm stretched out and anchored to the bench, lean away from it and pull your head to the opposite side with the other arm.
Hold for at least 30 seconds before switching sides, both for this and for the other stretches alike. Also, if you see that one of your sides is tighter than the other one is, don’t shy away from stretching that side a bit longer.
THE NECK ROTATORS STRETCH
As the name suggests, these muscles – found on the side of your neck – play a huge role in its ability to rotate.
For this stretch, you should extend your arm out again – but this time, grab the back of the bench instead. Then, turn your head away from this arm and push your chin to the side with the other hand.
THE SCALENE MUSCLES STRETCH
For the end, let’s stretch the front of your neck; the so-called scalene muscles, which – among other things – help your breathing as well!
Grab the front of your bench with your arm fully stretched out. Then, turn and lift your head up to the opposite direction at around a 45 degree angle; and use your other hand to gently push your head away by pressing it onto your forehead.