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Arthritis Neck Pain Stretches

Stretching is so critical to helping prevent and alleviate pain from arthritis. Whether you’ve got creaky knees, an achy back, stiff hips, or multiple problematic joints, regular stretching and range-of-motion exercises can help you feel better in many ways.

If you have arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic lower back pain, or another form of chronic pain, you may be nervous about starting any kind of new exercise because of fears that it could exacerbate your pain.

Of course, you should always talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise plan to make sure it’s safe and appropriate for you.

We worked to develop this list of stretches with Michele Stanten, an American Council on Exercise (ACE)-certified fitness instructor and walking coach who has been motivating people to be more active for more than 20 years. Stanten is the author of the books Firm Up in 3 Weeks and Walk Off Weight and has produced and appeared in more than a dozen exercise DVDs and created numerous audio workouts. Read more about her background.

Understanding the 2 Main Types of Stretches

There are two main kinds of stretches: dynamic and static. Dynamic stretching involves moving through a range of motion to warm up joints and muscles and increase flexibility. With static stretching, you hold a stretch for 30 to 60 seconds. You may feel some mild tension, but there shouldn’t be any pain.

Dynamic, Range-of-Motion Stretches

Do eight to 10 reps of each move, repeating on the opposite side if necessary. You can do one, some, or all of these stretches daily. Don’t force any of the moves. If a particular joint or movement is too painful, skip it.

Ankle circles

Sit or stand (hold onto something for balance) and raise one foot off the floor. Draw clockwise circles with your toes. Repeat with the opposite foot. Then repeat with each foot, drawing counterclockwise circles.

Arm circles

Sit or stand with your arms extended out to your sides at shoulder height. Rotate your arms forward, drawing circles with your fingertips. Repeat rotating your arms backward.

Leg swing

Stand tall and hold onto something sturdy. Gently swing one leg forward and back in a comfortable range of motion. If this is too difficult, simply tap your foot in front of you and behind you without raising it in the air.

Cat cow

Get down on all fours, hands under shoulders, knees under hips. Tuck your chin and tailbone and round your spine, pulling your belly button in toward your spine (cat). Then reverse the motion, lifting your head, chest, and tailbone up toward the ceiling and arch your back, dropping your belly toward the floor (cow). If getting down on the floor isn’t comfortable, you can do this move while sitting with your hands on your thighs.

Point & flex your feet

Press your toes away from you. Then pull them toward you. You can do one foot at a time or both.

Leg extension

Bend your legs so your feet are flat on the bed. Extend one leg raising your foot off the bed until your leg is straight (or as far as you can comfortably straighten it) without locking your knee. Then slowly lower. You can alternate legs or do all reps with one leg and then switch.

Knee hugs

With legs bent or straight, bend one leg and bring your knee toward you. Gently grasp your leg with your hands for a little assistance. Then slowly release. You can alternate legs or do all reps with one leg and then switch.

Torso twist

Bend your legs so your feet are flat on the bed. Slowly lower both knees to one side. Then raise them back to center and slowly lower them to the opposite side. If you can’t go all the way down to the bed on one or both sides, place pillows on either side to make the move easier and more comfortable.

Arm sweep

Lie with your arms down at your sides, palms up. Slowly sweep your arms out to the sides and raise them overhead. Then lower them back to your sides. Keep your arms in contact with the bed the entire time.

Tap and reach

Lie with your arms down at your sides, palms up. Bend your elbows, and tap your hands on your shoulders, and then extend your arms overhead. Reverse the movement, bringing your arms back down at your sides.

Head turns

Turn your head to look to the right side. Return to center. Turn and look to your left.

Wrist circles

Sitting or standing, rotate your wrists, drawing circles with your fingers. Repeat in the opposite direction.

Ball hugs

Sitting or standing, bring your arms in front of you and round your upper body as if you’re hugging a big beach ball. Then open your arms wide out to your sides, lifting your chest and squeezing your shoulder blades.

Side leg swing

Stand tall and hold onto something sturdy. Gently swing one leg out to the side and then across your body in front of you in a comfortable range of motion. If this is too difficult, simply tap your foot side to side without raising it in the air.

Torso twist

Sit or stand with your arms extended in front of you at shoulder-height. Bend your right elbow and pull that arm back, rotating your torso to the right. Return to starting position and repeat with your left arm, rotating to the left.

Hip circles

Stand with your hands on your hips. Rotate your hips clockwise, and then counterclockwise.

Glute kicks

Stand holding onto a chair or counter. Shift your weight to your left leg and bend your right knee, raising your right foot behind you toward your buttock. Slowly lower. and repeat with your left leg.

Static Stretching

With static stretching, you hold a stretch for 30 to 60 seconds. You may feel some mild tension, but there shouldn’t be any pain.

Do eight to 10 reps of each move, repeating on the opposite side if necessary. You can do one, some, or all of these stretches daily. Don’t force any of the moves. If a particular joint or movement is too painful, skip it.

Ball kicks

Stand holding onto a chair or counter. Bend your right knee, raising your right foot a few inches off of the floor in front of you. Holding that position, straighten your leg and then bend it back. You can put your foot down in between if needed. You can also do this move sitting on the edge of a chair or bench.

Arm raises

Stand or sit with your arms at your sides. Raise both arms out to the sides to shoulder height. Keeping the arms at shoulder height bring them out in front of you, and then lower them down in front. Complete all reps and then repeat in the opposite direction, lifting arms up in front, bringing them out to your sides, and then lowering.

Overhead raises

Stand or sit with your arms down at your sides. Slowly raise your arms out to the sides and up overhead. Slowly lower.

Neck tilts

Sitting or standing, slowly lower your right ear toward your right shoulder. Return to center. Lower to left side and return to center. That’s one rep.

Side bends

Sitting or standing, raise your right arm out to the side and up overhead as you bend to the left. Slowly return to center. Repeat with left arm, bending to the right. That’s one rep.

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