Cure Stiff Neck and Headaches With Passive Stretch Video

Updated on August 29, 2017
Sue Adams profile image

Dancer, choreologist (movement notator), author on fitness and health, and Fellow of the Benesh Institute at the Royal Academy of Dance.

The video Passive Spine And Neck Stretch is a response to readers' comments on the article How To Treat And Cure A Stiff Neck To Ease The Pain which has many exercises to stretch and strengthen the neck muscles to cure headache and neck pain.

From the many comments received on that publication, the need arose for a pre-requisite, a number one exercise for preventing and curing upper back, shoulder, and neck pain.

The areas most affected by poor carriage of the head.
The areas most affected by poor carriage of the head. | Source

What Is Stiffness?

Stiffness is the result of a lack of full mobility in the joints with the consequence of shortened muscles, ligaments and tendons. While "stretching" is the term generally used to get rid of stiffness, the term "stretching" is actually not quite accurate for the function of keeping one's body parts working to full anatomical (nature given) capacity. Slow neck rolls for example do not "stretch" anything at all, you merely go through the motions of keeping the neck loose and mobile enough to be able to look around to enjoy watching butterflies or the birds fly high in the sky.

Gently moving the neck through the three planes of motion, the Sagittal, Transverse, and Frontal planes which I refer to as 'Yes', 'No', and 'Maybe'.
Gently moving the neck through the three planes of motion, the Sagittal, Transverse, and Frontal planes which I refer to as 'Yes', 'No', and 'Maybe'. | Source

The Cause of your Pain

Did you know that an average adult human head weighs 6 kilograms / about 13 pounds? The reason you get a stiff neck is because your neck muscles are going into spasm from holding your head up in an unbalanced position all day. The Passive Spine and Neck Stretch will re-align the vertebrae, strengthen the muscles in the neck and spine to be able to carry and support the head in a well balanced neutral position at all times. In addition, if you spend a lot of time at the computer, it is advisable to re-design your workstation to better suit your body and make sure to frequently get up and move.

Keeping the Head Above the Spine


Where Does a Headache Come From?

Most headaches stem from an over curvature of the cervical vertebrae (the neck). Such over curvature prevents free blood flow to the brain and causes conscription headaches.The head should be balanced above the spine instead of held forward in front of the body. Carrying the head in front of the body demands unnecessary effort from the neck and shoulder muscles to the point of getting into spasm. This spasm is the neck and shoulder pain you feel. So the answer is a longer, straighter neck. But then again, actually, there is no such thing as a short neck. We all have 7 cervical vertebrae. Funny enough, even a giraffe has only 7 neck vertebrae. They are just very large. The apparent shortness of a neck lies in an over curvature, when the neck vertebrae are not aligned where they should be. Now you can elongate your neck and widen the shoulders with the Passive Spine and Neck Stretch, and bingo, less chance of a headache.

Brain Damage

Daily habits and dress codes as in wearing tightly buttoned-up shirts and ties hinder movement in the neck. As mentioned earlier, a lack of movement and stiffness in the neck prevents the free flow of blood supply to the brain. So another good reason for staying loose in the neck is that when the neck is blocked, the brain ceases to function at full capacity. Ever wondered why tight-necked, shoulder-raised politicians give us so much aggravation that makes no common sense at all? Their brains may not work to full potential! Could it be then that businessmen and politicians, that class of the most powerful humans who wear suits, stiff-collar shirts and ties, may have lost the plot? I leave you to ponder, meanwhile, how can you treat your own neck back to health?

Treat Your Own Neck

We are all taught at school that the spinal curves help protect the spine against impact by creating a bounce effect. The problem is that when the spinal curves are too deep they cause stiffness, backache, neck pain and headaches. Painkillers, cortisone injections, osteopathic treatment, and, in the most severe cases, surgery do not cure people of chronic pain. You are responsible for your own body. Take the treatment into your own hands, well, your own body I should say, with the Passive Spine and Neck Stretch exercise. You can hardly call it an exercise as it involves doing nothing more than relaxing on the floor, slowly circling the arms, and deep breathing. Before you start, the first thing to do is to check whether you are capable of lying down on your back on the floor comfortably. Study the next picture.

Comfort Comes First

Gravity can help to straighten out over-curvature in the neck and spine.
Gravity can help to straighten out over-curvature in the neck and spine. | Source

Are You Comfortable? Then We Shall Begin

Look at the picture above and figure out which props, if any, you need to be able to relax on the floor (not on a bed). Once you are able to lie down comfortably on the floor, with or without support, healing can begin. Just close your eyes, relax, breathe, and allow gravity to work to your body's advantage.

Make Space

Stand sideways to a full-length mirror or window pane and examine the shape of your spine. Where are the bulges, where are the hollows? If you see an over-curvature in your spine, this is what you can do to straighten it out a little, to reduce the depths of the curves: Make a space on the floor, large enough to take your full outstretched shape as shown in the next picture.

Your Floor Space


Passive Spine and Neck Stretch

With appropriate supports ready to make you comfortable (firm cushions, stiff bolster or a dictionary rolled up in a folded towel) you can passively straighten your neck and spine as follows:

Lie on the floor with three supports as shown in the video.

  1. large cushion under the knees
  2. small support under the chest area and
  3. a couple of dictionaries under the back of the head
  • Adjust the size of supports so you are comfortable lying down with your chin down, without bending the neck back.
  • Now close your eyes, relax. Breathe deeply while being aware of sinking deeper into mother earth on every long, slow out-breath.
  • While keeping the chin down, visualise and feel your head stretching away from your shoulders.
  • You can even "walk" with your shoulder blades away from your waist to elongate the mid-riff, then the back of the neck.

How Often?

Do the Passive Spine and Neck Stretch two or three times a day or whenever you feel a lack of concentration, tiredness and stiffness in the body. If you delay the treatment, there will be no cure for your pain and eventually you’ll be sitting at your laptop in agony, making mistakes or writing utter garbage because your brain will be deprived of sufficient blood and oxygen to function properly. So get off your seat now and go lie down on the floor as shown above. It’ll only take a few minutes. When you recover, your productivity will be greatly improved. So in the long run you are gaining time and a higher quality output.

How Comfortable Are You Lying On Your Back On The Floor?

See results

Advanced Neck Exercise Video

The following video shows the "Head Walk", an advanced neck exercise for those who are comfortable lying on the floor without a cushion under the head. Remember, if your neck is short, i.e, too deeply curved, do not do the "Head Walk" yet until you have elongated and re-aligned your neck fully. Instead, skip to the next paragraph where you get a chance to lengthen your neck without doing anything at all other than reverse the force of gravity.

Strengthen the Neck And Expand The Chest With "Head Walk"

Anti Gravity Treatment

You may want to invest in the most effective piece of remedial equipment on the market today: A Gravity Inversion Table. I bought one upon recommendation of an osteopath years ago when I had such a severe attack of sciatica from back pain that I could not walk. I had to crawl to go to the bathroom. Ever since using the Gravity Inversion Table I have never felt any pain or stiffness in my back, neck, or shoulders, ever again, let alone any head aches. Watch the next video to see how it works.

How Does it Work?

Positive Results from the Passive Spine and Neck Stretch

Here are some comments received on YouTube for the Passive Spine And Neck Stretch video.

“I wish I'd seen this video before spending a fortune on my osteopath. He won't see me again. I have also changed my desk workstation after watching Redesigning Your Work Station.

“Don't forget to loosen your neck every day, even several times a day, especially when spending long hours on the computer."

"It is also a good idea to be aware of your position while you are sitting still and make yourself more balanced and more comfortable as a norm. I.e, sit with a straight back, neck pulled up, keeping the chin down.”

“It's amazing how you can avoid so much pain with a bit of body awareness and a few minutes TLC for your neck every day.”

“This so much better than running for surgery - which should be a last resort.”

“Do some gentle neck exercises every day as a matter of routine like brushing your teeth.”

"I love your motto: No Pain, Just Gain! It debunks the myth that you have to suffer to get fit."

"So simple, yet so true. My headaches have completely gone since I learned how to properly relax on the floor!"

As you can see from the statements above, the Passive Spine and Neck Stretch really works for people.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers


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      • Sue Adams profile imageAUTHOR

        Juliette Kando FI Chor 

        7 years ago from Andalusia

        Hi LivingFood, nice to have you on board.

        The exercise "Yes,No,and Maybe" covers the movements for the neck through the three planes of motion. I actually invented the name "Yes, No and Maybe" for teaching as it is so much clearer and easier to remember than the actual names of the planes: sagittal (Yes), transverse (No)and Frontal (Maybe). Keep doing it to avoid neck pain.

      • LivingFood profile image


        7 years ago

        Excellent information! I didn't know they had a name, but I love the "yes, no maybe" stretches for my neck when sitting at the computer. Loved the video routine!


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