Stretches to relieve a knot in the neck include the corner stretch, performed while leaning on the forearms in a corner, and the levator scapula stretch, performed by pressing against a doorframe. These two stretches require no special equipment but are effective at releasing tight neck muscles. Before beginning the exercises, applying a heating pad helps to loosen the muscles to make stretching easier. After stretching, apply an ice pack to reduce swelling.
To perform the corner stretch, stand facing a corner with the hands on the two walls. Place the forearms on the walls with the elbows lower than the shoulders and lean the head forward as far as possible without the pain increasing. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat several times daily.
Perform the levator scapula stretch by placing the forearm against a doorframe with the elbow elevated above the shoulder. Turn the head away from the elevated arm and lower the chin to stretch the muscles in the back of the neck. Use the other hand to increase the stretch gently.
While stretching provides some immediate relief, neck-strengthening exercises help to prevent a recurring problem. Improving neck strength improves posture and reduces the likelihood of developing knots in the muscles. Patients with chronic neck pain should speak with their chiropractor, physical therapist or medical doctor about appropriate strengthening exercises to reduce their pain.