Best Exercises for Occipital Neuralgia: 5 Stretches for Pain Relief

The best exercises for occipital neuralgia
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We recommend reading these articles first.

Read about the only pillow we use to dramatically reduce Occipital Neuralgia here
Discover why you should use massage every day for Occipital Neuralgia here
Find out the best way to sleep with Occipital Neuralgia here


Overview

If you’re familiar with Occipital Neuralgia please jump straight to the exercise section.

Occipital Neuralgia is a very painful nerve condition with a specific type of headache that causes piercing, throbbing, or electric-shock-like pain behind at the base of the skull, upper neck, back of the head, scalp and often behind one eye. Occipital Neuralgia is different from the common tension headache, but we find they’re related. Typically, the pain of occipital neuralgia begins in the neck at the base of skull and then spreads upwards.

An inflamed or injured nerve in your neck, head, or scalp will cause these classic occipital neuralgia symptoms. Some of the best exercises for occipital neuralgia relief 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.

You can learn how to manage or minimize occipital neuralgia flare-ups with a few effective exercises, but if you haven’t got the basics sorted like sleeping on the correct pillow, you will be caught in a vicious, daily cycle of waking in pain and trying to relieve it. This is what happened to us. It’s essential to understand that providing your neck with the correct support on a nightly basis is going to give you the best shot at a good start every day.

It’s a long night with Occipital Neuralgia

The Best Occipital Neuralgia Massager

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 and prevention. Very cheap, reliable, and can be used on other parts of the body.

SHIATSU / NECK & SHOULDER
617 Reviews
SHIATSU / NECK & SHOULDER
An excellent massager, perfect for:

✅ OCCIPITAL NEURALGIA
✅ RELIEVING NECK / SHOULDER PAIN
✅ TENSION HEADACHES
✅ CAN BE USED ALL OVER THE BODY
✅ PERFECT THERAPY BEFORE SLEEP

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

List of 5 Stretches for Pain Relief

  1. Chin Tuck Exercise (We do this throughout the day)
  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…

Your choice of pillow is pivitol for pain relief, please read why here.

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THERAPEUTICA ORTHOPEDIC PILLOW
775 Reviews
THERAPEUTICA ORTHOPEDIC PILLOW
Our pillow of choice for Occipital Neuralgia

✅ OCCIPITAL NEURALGIA
✅ NECK / SHOULDER PAIN
✅ TENSION HEADACHES
✅ PERFECT FOR SIDE-SLEEPERS
✅ NON-ALLERGENIC / NON-TOXIC

SHALLOW CONTOUR CERVICAL PILLOW
Excellent all-round pillow for neck pain

✅ OCCIPITAL NEURALGIA
✅ NECK / SHOULDER PAIN
✅ TENSION HEADACHES
✅ SHALLOW CONTOUR
✅ NON-ALLERGENIC / NON-TOXIC

NECKSAVIOUR UPDATE JULY 2021

We have been trialing the necksaviour device for over a year to help relieve occipital neuralgia, neck pain, and headaches. Verdict? It works fantastically well for us. We’ve been using it alongside chin-tucks and neck rotations. It’s effortless to use, and as a daily pain relief and prevention exercise, it’s hard to beat. 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. They have a hassle-free 30-day returns policy, we started feeling the benefits after a week so ample time to see if it works for you.

Occipital Neuralgia Relief

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 prices update on 2021-07-23

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