Tip: Reciprocal Inhibition – A Better Way to Stretch Your Neck

Stop grabbing your neck and cranking your head to the side to stretch it. Here's a better way.

The last thing you want to be doing is aggressively and passively stretching the neck into dangerous positions when it feels tight. Here's how to stretch safely and effectively while actually seeing some long term improvement and carryover into daily life and training.

  1. Simply use your hands to first contract isometrically towards the position you are looking to improve for a few seconds.
  2. From here, keep your head where it is and isometrically contract into the opposite direction for a few seconds.
  3. Repeat this a few times and gain more functional range of motion through improved stability and activation.

The best part about this? It's highly active, which bodes well for motor learning, rewiring movement patterns, and allowing more longevity in your movement skill.

The Details

The neck is one complex region that involves many contractile and non-contractile soft tissues, in addition to vital vascular structures that run and distribute into this region and downstream into the rest of the body. So trying to force yourself into painful stretching and side-bending usually doesn't work, and many times results in flaring up the entire region, creating stress cycles, and even headaches.

These are intricate joints and soft tissues, so forcing them to move this way is essentially playing Russian roulette with your long term health. You can get better results using a reciprocal inhibition technique.

This technique can be used to extend usable end ranges in any direction at the neck, and involves utilizing the power of isometrics to improve perceived stability at the head and neck to unlock neural tone and tightness, which is most likely the reason for poor movement quality and even pain.