The Best 5 Neck Mobility Exercises to Gain Range of Motion and Ease Pain

Neck pain is on of the most common disabilities in our society today, so finding ways to both reduce symptoms through mobility and movement exercises whilst also fixing the root cause of the pain has never been more prevalent. Be sure to try out the mobility flow and read through the detailed advice outlined below.

5 min read
Sean Klein
Written by
Sean Klein
Published on
Last updated

Get weekly roundups of the best training tools in your inbox, every Monday.

No spam – just thoughtful training advice

In This Resource
  • Sample Neck Mobility Circuit
  • Dealing with Neck Pain
  • Phones / Technology and Neck Mobility
  • Stress and Neck Pain
  • Severe Injuries and Herniated Disks
  • Easing Neck Pain
  • Neck Mobility and Breath-work
  • Finding Root Cause
  • References

Sample Neck Mobility Circuit

Complete 3 rounds

1. Prisoner Spinal Wave

Complete 6 repetitions

2. Tall Kneeling Neck Rotations

Complete 8 repetitions

3. Tall Kneeling Forward Reach

Complete 6 repetitions

Dealing with Neck Pain

“Neck pain is the fourth leading cause of disability, with an annual prevalence rate exceeding 30%” (1) meaning that most of us at some point in our lives will experience neck pain. There are many different causes for neck pain, most cases will go away without treatment, others will continue and can turn into frequent pain.

Thus making patience important when it comes to your recovery from neck pain, obviously the manner in which you sustained and the severity of the neck pain will heavily influence both your recovery time and the path towards recovery.

Phones / Technology and Neck Mobility

We are currently on our devices more than ever, and although there is no confirmed linked between thoracic kyphosis (2) (a rounded upper back i.e poor posture) one can assume that sitting sedentary for hour on end will be a risk factor to having back pain.

Shifting the head downwards towards a screen, be it a phone or a laptop for extended periods of time increases the load places upon the muscles of the neck. “For every inch you drop your head forward, you double the load on those muscles. Looking down at your smartphone, with your chin to your chest, can put about 60 pounds of force on your neck.” (3)

Stress and Neck Pain

Stress is one of the most common causes of all chronic-pain, not excluding neck pain. If you are stressed, building a consistent mobility and movement flow into your day can be a great way to help ease chronic pain.

“Psychological risk factors, such as long-term stress, lack of social support, anxiety, and depression are important risk factors for neck pain(4)” Solving stress is an extremely complex issue and I am not going to attempt to tackle that beast in this article, but if it is the cause of your neck pain, you need to be aware and take the necessary steps to reduce stress.

Severe Injuries and Herniated Disks

These style of exercises should not be done by people who have extreme injuries or herniated disks, individuals who have had car accidents or herniated disks through contact sports need to see a physiotherapist to create a personalised recovery plan specific to them. You could potentially discuss your ability to perform exercises such as these, but do not take risks and perform exercises that your body is not in a position to perform

Easing Neck Pain

Using light exercises can help to ease neck pain, although you need to be sure you are not exacerbating a current issue. This “easing” of pain is similar to a massage, it is temporary and is not actually creating physical structure change. Therefore performing mobility exercises and stretched can be beneficial to do on a regular bases. If your doctor or physiotherapist permits it, try the mobility circuit above and see if it is effect at easing your neck pain.

Neck Mobility and Breath-work

Using neck mobility in conjunction with breath-work has been shown to be (5) a very effective way to ease back pain. Using simple breath-work techniques like concurrent breathing, where you take a 5 second inhale and 5 second exhale, can be a great way to enter the parasympathetic state, allowing the relaxation of your muscles.

A great example of an intervention here might be a 5 minute mobility circuit as seen above and a 5 minute concurrent breath-work routine to start your day helping you both move into your day whilst in a relaxed state.

Finding Root Cause

A great deal of articles like this one will put emphasis on how effective their intervention is, for me to claim that these exercises are going to solve your neck pain would lack rigour. These exercises will likely help ease pain intermittently, if you have anxiety and are tensing the muscles in your neck then these exercises will not fix the root cause of your pain. You need to look deeper than the symptom, in this case neck pain, and find whats causing it in the first place, then take steps to reduce that therefore solving the issue on a long term basis. If the cause is obvious, say a physical impact, then you need to follow your doctors medical advice and ease the pain in the process, if it’s more complex, you need to route out the underlying cause of the pain.


  • Cohen SP. Epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment of neck pain. Mayo Clin Proc. 2015 Feb;90(2):284-99. doi: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2014.09.008. PMID: 25659245.
  • Joshi S, Balthillaya G, Neelapala YVR. Thoracic Posture and Mobility in Mechanical Neck Pain Population: A Review of the Literature. Asian Spine J. 2019 Jun 3;13(5):849-860. doi: 10.31616/asj.2018.0302. PMID: 31154701; PMCID: PMC6773982.
  • Team, C.C. (2023) Is your smartphone causing your neck pain? , Cleveland Clinic . Available at: (Accessed: 12 September 2023).
  • Kazeminasab S, Nejadghaderi SA, Amiri P, Pourfathi H, Araj-Khodaei M, Sullman MJM, Kolahi AA, Safiri S. Neck pain: global epidemiology, trends and risk factors. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2022 Jan 3;23(1):26. doi: 10.1186/s12891-021-04957-4. PMID: 34980079; PMCID: PMC8725362.
  • Anwar S, Arsalan A, Zafar H, Ahmad A, Hanif A. Effects of breathing reeducation on cervical and pulmonary outcomes in patients with non specific chronic neck pain: A double blind randomized controlled trial. PLoS One. 2022 Aug 25;17(8):e0273471. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0273471. PMID: 36006997; PMCID: PMC9409509.
  • If you enjoyed this resource you can find more below or try Programme, a fitness app that plans every workout for you – based on your progress, equipment and lifestyle.

    This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.

    Sean Klein


    Programme is a workout app that plans every workout for you

    Programme learns from your past workouts, training experience and available equipment to create your optimal workout plan that adapts to your progress.