Three exercises to address a stiff neck on one side

Stiff Neck on One Side

Feeling stiffness on one side of the neck is fairly common. After all, sleeping the wrong way can trigger this issue. It can also come from frequently performed neck or head movements you do at work. 

The structures in your neck that become stiff are typically neck muscles. These muscles help rotate, bend, and flex your neck and head. Treating stiff muscles on one side of your neck is easier with help from a physical therapist. These specialists can help you find effective treatment for your neck stiffness and pain, and your treatment may include therapeutic exercises like: 

Shoulder rolls

Purpose: Shoulder rolls can help loosen up neck muscles when they’re stiff on one or both sides. 

How to perform shoulder rolls:

  • Sit up straight on the edge of a stable chair. 
  • Pull your shoulders back slightly. 
  • Slowly roll the affected shoulder forward and down until you’ve completed a full circle. 
  • Continue until you’ve done five forward rolls. 
  • Then, reverse the direction of the roll. 
  • Continue until you’ve completed five backward rolls. 


Lateral neck flexion stretch

Purpose: This exercise can help stretch out stiff muscles in one or both sides of your neck. It can also help stretch tense muscles along the top of your shoulders

How to perform the lateral neck flexion stretch:

  • Sit up straight with your chin as level as possible. 
  • Slowly tilt your head away from the affected side of your neck. 
  • Stop when you feel a moderate stretch. 
  • Hold the stretch for five to 10 seconds. 
  • Return your head to a neutral position. 
  • Repeat the stretch until you’ve done it three to five times on the affected side. 


Neck rotations

Purpose: The neck rotation exercise is intended to stretch muscles that rotate your neck and head from one side to the other

How to perform the neck rotation exercise:

  • Sit with good posture and a level chin. 
  • Slowly rotate your head away from the stiff side of your neck. 
  • Rotate your head until you feel a moderate stretch in your neck.
  • Hold this stretch for five to 10 seconds. 
  • Return your head to a neutral position and rest for a few seconds. 
  • Continue to do this exercise until you’ve done three to five repetitions. 

Treat your neck stiffness and pain with help from Armor PT

Ready to reduce the stiffness on one side of your neck? Our team at Armor Physical Therapy is ready and willing to help you. We offer free screenings that can pinpoint the source of your neck stiffness and pain. Additionally, our specialists can build you an individualized therapy plan designed to reduce your stiffness and prevent future stiffness. Even better, you can use our at-home care and virtual therapy services to help treat your stiffness in your home.

Contact us today for more information about our treatment options for neck pain and stiffness or to schedule an initial appointment. 

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