Stiff necks and shoulders usually occur from too much stress or incorrect sleeping postures. They could also affect the body while you play a racket sport. If you are prone to these problems, here are some exercises that will not only help prevent the injury, but also ease the pain.
Sit cross legged on the ground and keep a chair in front of you. Rest your head on the chair so that you feel a stretch at the nape of your neck. You should be in a very comfortable position. Hold this position for a while.
Stand upright with your legs slightly apart. Keep a table in front of you, and bend forward till your head touches the table (your elbows can help support your head). You should be at a right angle bend. This should help you release the tension in your shoulders and relieve the stiffness.
Massaging yourself is another way to relax the neck and shoulder muscles. Using your forefinger, press from the nape of the neck and go outwards to the shoulders. Once you have done this, stand straight and place your fingers on your chin. Now use this pressure to lower the jaw till it starts to touch your chest. Make sure you do not move your body forward. Do repetitions of five each.
If you are suffering from a stiff neck, keep the arm of the affected side stretched out to your side. Now gently bend the arm to the elbow bringing your fingers to your shoulders and move back to the original position. If you find even the slightest discomfort or pain in your neck, do not do it for more than three counts.
A stiff neck or shoulder injury will take at least six weeks to heal completely, and any exercise you try must be done with utmost care and should not strain the body. This condition can cause a lot more pain when you are in a lying position rather than standing up. Use a collar brace, and make sure the attachment to lock it is in the front. Do not massage the neck and shoulder as this will only aggravate the problem.