Why Won’t My Neck Relax?

You may feel that sometimes, no matter how much you try to stretch your neck there is no relief. One of the ways in which this may manifest is if you lay down on the floor without a pillow and it feels like you have work to release. Maybe your chin juts towards the ceiling. Maybe your neck feels “crunchy” in the back. So what do you need to do? Instinctually, you may react to the tightness with attempts to stretch the necks muscles more.

But this situation presents an important lesson that we will touch upon again and again in this blog and in our work:

There is a difference between Stretch and Release.  Stretch does NOT always equal Release!

What if the neck muscles that feel tight are actually overstretched and you are not perceiving the sensation correctly?  To further illuminate, take an internal body scan and see if you can sense if you have very tight pectoral muscles. This may be a result of sitting at a computer for many hours, reading at a desk, or just holding bad posture. The chronically contracted muscles on the front of your body are constantly pulling and forcing the back muscles to stretch to their maximum capacity. The tight sensations in the back are muscles screaming for release not more stretch.

Try working on the pecs with body work, massage, or gently stretching them…whatever works best for you to open those muscles. Now try actually using the muscles in the back body by contracting the postural muscles. Lie down and squeeze the scapula together by contracting the muscles in between.  See how far down you can take that squeeze. This may be difficult, because you are lying down. But, try alternating squeezing the muscles and releasing the contraction. Doing this, after opening the pecs, can begin to rebalance your posture and equalize the work of the front and back muscles. In other words, you will open your tight pecs and give release/relief to the overly stretched back muscles. Once you’ve alternated the squeeze and release of the postural muscles 3 – 5 times lie down on the floor and see if you feel a difference in your previously “tight” neck. Is it easier to release your head to the ground without a pillow?  Do you have an easier time tucking your chin back and keeping it there?

Kim-Lien Kendall and Melissa Gutierrez have collaborated for over 5 years to help people achieve better, easier and more efficient movement and improve their quality of life. They aspire to create a meaningful and lasting system that truly helps people attain their goals transcending the fitness and yoga industries’ quick fixes and trends. They have personally studied and practiced various forms of yoga, martial arts, dance as well as a variety of sports and traditional gym exercise. They have built a philosophy and method, called SMARTer Bodies™, on a foundation of years of experience working with hundreds of different bodies. For more information, visit their webpage http://www.smarterbodies.com

Recent articles


Upcoming courses


Yoga for
every body

How to Avoid the Top 3 Pitfalls of Forward Bends

With Julie Gudmedstad

Recent articles


Sorry, You have reached your
monthly limit of views

To access, join us for a free 7-day membership trial to support expanding the Pose Library resources to the yoga community.

Sign up for a FREE 7-day trial