Neck pain exercises

If your neck pain is due to an injury, surgery, or poor posture, try these gentle stretching and strengthening neck exercises to help ease the pain.


Neck pain can be a mild to chronic pain that starts in the neck and can radiate onto the shoulders, and down one or both of the arms. Neck pain can be the result of a number of conditions that involve any of the tissues in the neck, nerves, bones, joints, ligaments and muscles. 

The first thing you should do is try to understand the cause of your neck problem as soon as possible, to make sure your condition isn’t something more serious that needs special medical attention. This is because the neck contains and connects important structures including the spinal cord, jugular veins and carotid artery, and protects the nerves that carry sensory and motor information to the rest of the body.

The most common neck issues which you can treat with physio exercise include a twisted or locked neck, arthritis, pinched nerves, muscle inflammation, facet joint strain, whiplash, poor posture and disc degeneration. If you do not know the reason for your neck pain, our specialist physiotherapists will assess, diagnose and treat your neck pain at its source with a personalised rehabilitation programme.


We know that sometimes it can be worrying to carry out physio exercise on a painful part of the body, just in case you cause more pain or damage. In fact, gentle exercise has been shown to be the most helpful treatment for ongoing musculoskeletal neck conditions. If you have neck pain that continues for more than a week, is severe, or is accompanied by other symptoms, we advise you to seek medical attention immediately.

If you are unsure of the cause of your neck condition, it is safer to be assessed by a physiotherapist first. Our nationwide team of friendly physiotherapists are here to help if you need us.

When carrying out the physio neck exercises, remember to take your time. Go at a steady pace, and if you experience any sharp or sudden pain, you should stop immediately and seek medical assistance. Exercise should never cause serious pain or make your condition worse.


Gentle exercises for neck pain are an excellent place to start when treating your condition or injury. By working the tight muscles and stiff joints in the neck, shoulders and back, you can help to reduce the tension, strengthen the structures and reduce the pain and headaches if they occur.

In order to get the best possible treatment for your neck, you need to work with a physiotherapist who will address and treat the cause of pain directly. 

See our videos on some of the main exercises for neck pain relief and strengthening below.

If you are experiencing pain at the front, back or side of your neck, noticed numbness or weakness in your arm, headaches, tingling in your fingers or are struggling to move your neck or head without pain, we advise you to arrange an assessment at one of our nationwide physio clinic locations, or virtually via video call. In the meantime, keep reading for some preliminary exercises for a painful neck.

In standing with your arms by your side slowly rotate your shoulders backwards then repeat this movement forwards

In sitting or standing, move your ear towards your shoulder. Place your hand on your head and gently apply pressure to stretch further into this movement. Hold this position. Repeat this on the other side.

Neck extension - Keeping your chin tucked in slowly extend your neck to look up to the sky then slowly lower your neck to look down to the floor.

Don’t have fitness equipment?

Our ‘how to’ neck pain relief exercises contain easy to follow instructions, without the need for any specialist equipment. Some of our other physio exercise videos, such as shoulder pain exercises or back pain exercises, involve basic equipment such as weights and balls. If you don’t have these at home, you can use household items instead, such as laundry detergents, tennis balls, milk bottles or even canned goods. Our more advanced physio exercises you may need as part of your rehabilitation involve state-of-the-art equipment that we provide in the clinic, which is closely monitored during your appointments.


You don’t have to do this all on your own, our experts can treat your mild to chronic neck conditions from one of our 17 clinics nationwide. This may include more than just exercises, our physios may determine you would benefit from other treatments available, such as acupuncture and sports massage. Our physios will also give you some strategies to prevent the neck pain from coming back. We will complete a full physio assessment and create a personalised neck and shoulders rehabilitation program designed around you.

Video call appointments

Can’t visit one of our David Lloyd locations? We also provide virtual video call appointments with our physiotherapists, so you can get targeted treatment in your own home.

Nationwide physio clinic locations

Find a location near you

Response Physio & Sports Therapy offer physiotherapy appointments for patients across the UK. We offer flexible opening hours to suit busy lifestyles, including early and late appointments, Saturday clinics, and remote clinics. No need to wait in any lengthy backlog for physio treatment on the NHS, our appointments can be accessed without a doctor’s referral and are often available within 24 hours. We accept self-pay, NHS referrals, and all major private health insurers, including AXA, BUPA, and Medico-legal.

Our locations that offer advanced physio treatment for neck pain:

Disclaimer: The above exercises alone are not designed as a cure or long term solution for your back pain; if you are suffering from a back injury, illness or condition then you still need to see a physiotherapist.