Stories from Active Recovery

All you need is a towel and a resistance band for this 5-minute neck decompression stretch

Rachel Lapidos

Rachel LapidosApril 26, 2020

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Photo: Getty Images/FluxFactory

Moving forward is great and all… but it’s not what you want to be doing with your neck. Having forward head tilt isn’t good for your spinal health, but it’s very common when you’re working (from home or an office), sitting, or even walking around. The easiest solution to combat it? Decompress your neck with a sling made from items you have around the house.

“Oftentimes, a lot of people complain about neck pain and can’t relax or de-stress,” says Jen Esquer, DPT, a physical therapist. “Just adding a little bit of traction, relaxing, and releasing in the muscles, allowing your body to rest and chill is a good way to decompress the neck.” You can get this traction by resting your neck on a sort of sling that’s hanging on a doorknob (or other hook close to the floor), which uses the weight of your skull to decompress the neck muscles and all of the tension that’s accumulated.

All you need? A towel, a band of some sort (like a resistance band, if you have one), and some tape. Fold the towel length-wise until it’s as thin as it can go, then tape the opposite ends together at the top so that you have a loop. Wrap your resistance band around the top that you just taped, and hang it on something like a doorknob. “Place the bottom of the towel loop at the base of your head and scoot your bottom forward a bit,” says Dr. Esquer, who recommends only scooting out until you feel a slight pull. Then let your head rest down and breathe.

“Just relax and put your hand on your belly, and it will help to decompress your neck for a bit and can help you feel more mobile,” she says. Her tip? Rest in the sling for about five to 10 minutes, but not much longer than that—that’ll be all you’ll need to combat that annoying tech neck pain for sweet relief.

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