7 Stretches To Relieve Neck & Jaw Pain, From A Physical Therapist

mbg Editorial Assistant By Abby Moore
mbg Editorial Assistant
Abby Moore is an Editorial Assistant at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine.
Woman Touches Her Neck

Whether you suffer from tech neck, teeth grinding, or a more serious jaw issue like temporomandibular disorder (TMD), finding the root cause and seeking treatment early is critical. When left untreated, tension in the jaw can start to manifest in other areas of the body and may even increase stress levels. 

For more serious pain, eliminating certain hard-to-chew foods from the diet and visiting a doctor for a personalized treatment plan are recommended. But if you're dealing with less serious day-to-day discomfort, physical therapist Jaclyn Fulop, M.S., recommends trying these seven stretches to release jaw and neck tension: 

1. Chin tucks

Chin Tucks
  1. Start by sitting or standing with a straight back. 
  2. Stare straight forward and pull your head backward using the muscles in the front of your neck. 
  3. Keep your head level with the floor at all times, and avoid tilting it upward or downward. 
  4. Hold for 5 seconds; repeat 10 times or as many as needed. 
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2. Upper trap cervical spine stretch 

Upper Trap Cervical Spine Stretch
  1. Retract your head into a chin-tuck position.
  2. Place your right hand behind your back. 
  3. Using the left arm, gently draw your head toward the opposite side.
  4. Repeat on the other side.
  5. Complete 3 reps on each side.

3. Levator scap cervical spine stretch 

Levator Scap Cervical Spine Stretch
  1. Place your right arm behind your back. 
  2. Use your left hand to draw your head downward and toward the left side. 
  3. You should be looking into your left armpit. 
  4. Repeat on the other side.
  5. Complete 3 reps on each side.

4. Scalene cervical spine stretch 

Scalene Cervical Spine Stretch
  1. Place your right arm behind your back. 
  2. Tilt your head upward and away from the right side until you feel a gentle stretch along the front and side of your neck. If you want a deeper stretch, place the left hand on top of your head and gently pull back.
  3. Repeat on the other side.
  4. Complete 3 reps on each side.

5. Corner wall stretch

Corner Wall Stretch
  1. Stand with a doorway about 1 to 2 feet in front of you. 
  2. Make a goal-post with the arms so your upper arms are parallel to the floor. 
  3. Place your forearms on either side of the doorway. 
  4. Step forward with one foot so that it's on the opposite side of the doorway. 
  5. Slowly shift weight onto the front foot until you feel a stretch in your chest. 
  6. Switch the weight-bearing foot.
  7. Repeat 3 times on each side. 

6. Tongue up 

Tongue Up
  1. Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth. 
  2. Slowly open (as widely as you can) and close your mouth. 
  3. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds, and repeat 2 sets of 10. 

7. Lower jaw retraction/protraction 

Lower Jaw Retraction/Protraction
  1. Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth. 
  2. Glide your lower jaw out as far as it will go.
  3. Then glide it back in as far as it will go. 
  4. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds in each position, and repeat 2 sets of 10 reps. 

Bottom line.

Whatever the cause, jaw and neck pain can be painful and distracting. Taking time throughout the day to pause what you're doing (especially if you're looking at a screen) and engage in these seven stretches may begin to relieve some of that discomfort. If the pain persists, seek out a doctor or physical therapist.

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