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The Association Between Neck Pain And Stress

We’ve all experienced and know how frustrating it is to live under the pressure of balancing your professional and personal life, and how juggling these responsibilities can lead to chronic stress.  When you experience a stressful event or a bout of anxiety, your muscles contract, sometimes forcefully. This is an automatic or reflex reaction, also known as a stress response or a “fight or flight” response.


What Happens To Our Body When We're Stressed?

If the stress is ongoing, our body may stay in a heightened state of readiness to face a threat. As a result, our muscles may stay tense and tight for much longer than they need to. When a person is experiencing long-term stress, the brain is exposed to increased levels of cortisol hormone. The cortisol hormone weakens our immune system, which makes it easier for us to fall sick.


Mental Illness And Stress

Stress can even contribute to worsening the symptoms of our mental health. We are most vulnerable to stress when we experience a major life change (such as moving, the death of a loved one, getting married, or starting a new job), not getting enough sleep, lack of a support network, or when not eating well and experiencing poor health.  Even though the body’s stress response is designed to help you deal with physical threats, it responds in the same way even if the threat isn’t physical. Some examples include the muscles tightening up when you’re stuck in traffic, dealing with pressure at work, or watching the news. 

Additionally, when our posture is poor, such as straining to look at a computer or mobile device or hunching over your desk, undue strain occurs in the neck muscles.

How Do You Relieve Neck Strain And Tension?

Exercises may help reduce neck tension and increase the range of movement in the neck. Stretching the neck may help a person relieve muscle tension and improve their range of motion. Below, we list examples of exercises that are best for neck pain:

1. Neck Retraction/Chin Tucks


  • From a neutral posture, pull your chin straight backwards, in an attempt to make a double chin.

  • Do not force this movement, aim for 70 - 80% of your full range of motion when going back into retraction.

  • Hold the neck retraction or chin tuck position for 2 - 3 seconds, then release your neck back towards neutral position.

  • When returning to the neutral position, don’t stick your chin out past neutral, into a chicken neck posture. We want to avoid exaggerating the forward head posture.

  • Repeat the motion 5 - 7 times, holding for 2 - 3 seconds each time.


2. Child’s Pose


  • Get on your hands and knees with your palms flat on the floor, wrists under your shoulders, and knees under your hips.

  • Sit back on your heels, lengthen your spine, and walk your hands in front of you. Make sure to hinge at your hips.

  • Fold forward and keep your arms extended in front of you.

  • Hold this position for 60 - 90 seconds. Focus on your breath while you release tension in your neck and shoulders.

  • Return to the starting position and repeat 2 to 3 times.


3. Cat-Cow Pose


  • Get on your hands and knees with your palms flat on the floor, wrists under your shoulders, and knees under your hips.

  • Inhale and get into Cow Pose.

    • Drop your belly towards the mat and lift your chin and chest. Look up at the ceiling. Open your chest and shoulders and pause for a few seconds.

  • Exhale and move into Cat Pose.

    • Pull your belly toward your spine and round your back toward the ceiling. You should be looking down at the mat and pause for a few seconds.

  • Inhale and return into Cow Pose.

  • Repeat 10 - 12 times.


4. Thread The Needle


  • Get on your hands and knees with your palms flat on the floor, wrists under your shoulders, and knees under your hips.

  • Slide your right hand (palm up) on the floor to the left side of your body. Your body will rotate with the movement, and your right shoulder will touch the floor as you look to the left side. Use your left hand to support your weight.

  • Hold this position for 20 - 30 seconds and return to the starting position.

  • Repeat on the left side.

  • Do 2 - 3 times on each side.


Don't Be Afraid To Ask For Help!

We can manage stress better by working out regularly, eating a regular and well balanced diet, getting a good night’s sleep, eliminating/reducing the triggers, taking a break, meditating, slowing down in life, and going easy on ourselves. Talking about things which are bothering us can also help to lower our stress. We can talk to family members, friends, a trusted colleague, a psychotherapist or even consult our Physiotherapist.

At Prohealth Asia, we ensure that each patient has an individual programme specifically designed for their needs to help them heal better. 

For more information call us on +91-11-42120200 or book an appointment.


Written by: Vriddhi Lalai (Physiotherapist)

A spine enthusiast and an orthopaedic rehab post graduate from UK, Vriddhi works towards the goal of enlightening and teaching  an individual in exploring the root cause of their ailment and helping them treat it while using their own body capaticity to heal itself to maximum with mininmal dependence on external sources.

Author by Vriddhi Lalai , Jul 15, 2022,


Come to our Physiotherapy clinic in Niti Bagh, Delhi for a chat with one of our expert physiotherapist to plan the right Physiotherapy treatment for you to get rid of pain in no time.