Best Exercises for Occipital Neuralgia: 5 Stretches for Pain Relief

The best exercises for occipital neuralgia
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We have been using the amazing necksaviour device for over a year to help relieve neck pain and headaches. Verdict? It works. We’ve been using it alongside chin-tucks and neck rotations. Incredibly easy to use, we cannot recommend this highly enough as a daily pain relief stretching exercise, and best of all? You lay down, relax and let it work for you. Definitely, one of the best exercises for occipital neuralgia that you don’t even have to think about. If you would like to learn more, simply click the image below.

Occipital Neuralgia Relief

Read about the only pillow we use to dramatically reduce Occipital Neuralgia here.

Read our latest post about sleeping and living with Occipital Neuralgia here.

Headache back of head?

Occipital Neuralgia is a very painful nerve condition characterized by inflamed or injured nerves running through the scalp. Occipital Neuralgia is different from the common tension headache, but we find they’re related.

An inflamed or injured nerve in your neck, head, or scalp can cause severe headaches, piercing sensations, pain in the back of the head, upper neck, ears and often behind the eyes. These are classic occipital neuralgia symptoms. Some of the best exercises for occipital neuralgia also apply to text-neck.

best exercises for occipital neuralgia
Back Pain Sleep Recommended Occipital Pillow

Best Exercises for Occipital Neuralgia

Research shows that massage therapy and physical therapy are superb at relieving occipital pain. Other treatments include Botox injections and minimally invasive surgical techniques, such as occipital nerve stimulation and spinal cord stimulation. We focus on non-invasive therapies.

Most often, a pinched nerve in your neck can cause occipital neuralgia. Head or neck injury is also a common cause of this nerve condition.

Depending on the intensity of the condition, doctors prescribe different treatment options to patients. For instance, if it is mild, you can get relief with heating pads and oral medications, such as muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory drugs, and anticonvulsant drugs.

In today’s article, we will tell you how to manage occipital neuralgia with a few effective exercises. Make sure you read this post thoroughly so that you grasp the essential information and get the most out of it. Read on!

It’s a long night with Occipital Neuralgia

The Best Massager for Occipital Neuralgia

Self-massage is one of the best exercises for occipital neuralgia as it can relieve pain rapidly. Affordable and achievable at home with a dedicated massager. We use a neck massager on a regular basis for occipital neuralgia pain relief. Very cheap, reliable, and can be used on other parts of the body.

An excellent massager, perfect for:


For self-massage and excellent pain relief, we recommend the above Shiatsu Back and Neck Massager from Amazon. It’s very comfortable to use with its built-in arm slings… these enable you to really relax your shoulders which has a knock-on effect with your neck muscles. Like most of the other massagers we use, it can be used on all areas of the body.

It has a handy reversible strap for tying around your waist for a good lower back massage, great heating function too. At the time of writing, it had surpassed over 20,000 reviews. Superb product, superb value.

List of 5 Stretches for Pain Relief

  1. Chin Tuck Exercise
  2. Sub-Occipital Neck Stretch Exercise
  3. Neck Rotation Exercise
  4. Neck Extension Exercise
  5. Savasana

1. Chin Tuck Exercise

Research shows that the chin tuck exercise can strengthen your lower cervical extensors, deep cervical flexors, and other muscles in the neck, shoulder, and ear regions.

It helps stretch the suboccipital muscles in the skull and scalene muscles in the neck.

The chin tuck exercise can strengthen your occipital muscles effectively and is one of the best techniques to prevent neck pain.

You can perform this exercise several times a day. Performing it regularly can also improve your posture. Here are the steps to perform the chin tuck exercise.

  • Sit upright and keep your head and spine straight.
  • Place your fingers on your chin. Make sure you keep them on the front of your chin.
  • Close your mouth and maintain a straight neck.
  • Exhale and press your chin backward with fingertips gently.
  • Move your head while putting pressure on your chin to feel your occipital muscles at your skull’s base. (Pro Tip: put enough pressure on your chin to create a double chin. It means you are stretching the muscles correctly).
  • Don’t overstretch your muscles because it can go beyond the threshold of pain.
  • Hold for 5 to 10 seconds and return to the original position.

2. Sub-Occipital Neck Stretch Exercise

The sub-occipital neck stretch is an effective exercise that helps soften the muscle tissues in your sub-occipital area. Not only does it help open up the area between Atlas (C1) and Axis (C2) vertebrae at the top of the neck, but it also gives relief from pain that occurs at the base of the head.

It is an essential treatment for headaches, shoulder pain, neck pain, and painful sensations in the upper spinal area. Here are the steps to carry out the sub-occipital neck stretch exercise.

  • Sit in a comfortable chair that keeps your back straight.
  • Align your head and neck with your back.
  • Gently push your chin back to make a double chin.
  • Move your head backward to feel the strength along the base of your skull and sides of your neck.
  • Hold the stretch for a couple of seconds and release so that you return to the normal position.

You can also do this exercise effectively with a device or tool called the Iron Neck. It is a device that holds your head in place and improves your posture by providing accurate stretches. It is easy to perform this exercise with the Iron Neck. Here are the steps.

  • Start the exercise by looking straight ahead.
  • Keep your chin parallel or straight to the floor.
  • Secure the Iron Neck device and start pushing your head down and forward. Keeping your hand on the backside of your head will make the push accurate.
  • Keeping your chin tucked in front of your neck will help you feel a pull in your sub-occipital muscles.

3. Neck Rotation Exercise

Research shows that side-to-side head or neck rotations are an excellent exercise to reduce painful sensations and tightness in the back of your neck and occipital muscles. Not only does this exercise reduce the intensity of pain, but it also increases your neck mobility. Here is how you can perform this exercise at home.

  • Sit in a comfortable chair. Keep your head and neck aligned with your spine.
  • Rotate your head slowly to the left. Make sure your head is straight.
  • Stretch as much as you can to the left side without causing strain or pain.
  • Keep your eyes on the left shoulder and hold the stretch for at least 20 seconds. (10 seconds is the right time for beginners).
  • Slowly bring your head to the original position.
  • Now, rotate your head to the right side and look over your right shoulder for 20 seconds. Again, make sure you gently stretch your head as far as you can.
  • Return to the normal position and continue the exercise a few more times.

4. Neck Extension Exercise

The primary goal of neck extension or flexion exercise is to reduce pain intensity in your occipital and sub-occipital muscles. It is a highly beneficial activity to relieve pain and tightness in the neck area and reduce tension in the front, sides, and back of your neck. An additional bonus is a significant reduction in tension headaches.

Neck extensions can help loosen tight muscles at your skull’s base. Follow the steps given below to perform this exercise accurately.

  • Sit in a comfortable chair. Place your hand on the knees without putting any pressure on them.
  • Relax your mind and keep your head/neck in line with your back.
  • Move your head back in a position so that you can look at the ceiling.
  • Hold your head in this position for 3-5 seconds and bring it back to the center.
  • Once you are in the normal position, bend your head forward enough so that your chin touches your chest.
  • Return to the normal position.
  • Repeat the exercise at least 10 times.

5. Savasana

Doctors, physical therapists, and surgeons recommend Savasana to patients who suffer from severe pain due to occipital neuralgia. It is a yoga pose with incredible restorative features that can relax your muscles at the base of your skull and neck as well as reduce severe headaches and neck pain.

It is essential to perform this exercise with proper head support. For instance, you can use a low pillow or folded blanket. Anyway, the steps to perform this exercise or yoga pose are:

  • Place a folded blanket or pillow on the floor or bed. Place your head on the pillow while lying on your back.
  • Wear an eye bag to relax your eyes.
  • Allow your arms to rest by your sides and your legs in a natural position.
  • Make sure your palms face up
  • Stay in this pose for at least 20 minutes or 30 minutes to relax your occipital and sub-occipital muscles.

Your pillow is more than important…

Our pillow of choice for Occipital Neuralgia


Excellent all-round pillow for neck pain


Final Words

Exercises like the ones mentioned in this post can provide some much-needed relief. As safe as these exercises are for occipital neuralgia pain relief, please discuss with your health care provider before performing them. If you feel any pain doing any exercise or stretch. STOP!

Stay safe.

Also Check: Best pillow for occipital neuralgia and tension headaches

Last update on 2021-06-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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