Back View of a Man with Neck PainWhether from anxiety, technology (text neck) or exercise, tense neck and shoulder muscles are common. Shoulders are particularly vulnerable to injury because of their high mobility in a relatively shallow joint. Stretching is an important way of protecting the shoulders. It helps the neck, too. Short, tight neck muscles place undue stress on the shoulders and spine. Discomfort that radiates to other parts of the body is another problem caused by tense neck and shoulders. These exercises can help.

Dolphin Pose
Great for pre-workout shoulder stretch, this pose is an inversion and has many benefits beyond the shoulders. Including:
• Tones your core
• Aids in digestion
• Relieves backache and fatigue

Here’s how to do it:
• Start on your hands and knees. Place your wrists directly under your shoulders, and your knees directly under your hips. The fold of your wrists should be parallel to the top edge of your mat, and your middle fingers should point directly forward.
• Lower your elbows to the floor directly beneath your shoulders. Keep your forearms parallel to each other and to the side edges of your mat. Distribute your weight evenly across both forearms.
• Tuck your toes and lift your knees off the floor. Reach your pelvis up toward the ceiling, then draw your sit bones toward the wall behind you. Keep your knees bent as you lengthen your spine and broaden across your shoulder blades.
• Gently begin to straighten your legs. Bring your torso and legs into the shape of an “A.” Do not walk your feet closer to your hands — keep the extension of your whole body. If your upper back begins to round, bend your knees again until your spine is straight.
• Draw your shoulder blades into your upper back ribs and toward your tailbone. Widen across your collarbones.
• Align your ears with your upper arms. Relax your head, but do not let it dangle. Gaze between your legs or toward your navel.
• Hold for 5-25 breaths.

Wide-arm circles
Try this one after your workout when your shoulders muscles are warmed up and loose.
Here’s how to do it:
• Stand with feet hip-width apart. Extend both arms fully out to your sides so the body makes a letter T shape. Gently circle your arms forward 10 times. Reverse and circle back 10 times. Repeat using a wider circling motion in both directions.
Shoulder rolls
• Stand with feet hip-width apart. Your arms should be at your sides. Drop your shoulders (tension or tightness usually brings them close to the ears) Slowly roll your shoulders forward ten times and then back ten times.

Diagonal neck stretch
Appropriate for pre-and post-exercise
Here’s how to do it:
• Turn your head slightly toward the direction you will be stretching, and tilt your head diagonally toward your chest and hold for 15 to 30 seconds.
• If you would like a little added stretch, use your hand to gently and steadily pull your head forward on the diagonal.
• Repeat 2 to 4 times toward each side.
From WebMD

Yes and no stretch
Appropriate for pre-and post-exercise

Here’s how to do it:
• Stand with feet hip-width apart. Slowly move the head up and down as if saying yes, but with a larger motion. Extend your head back as far as you can and forward until your chin touches your chest. Next move your head as if saying no, again with larger motion. Turn slowly as far as you can go in both directions.

Standing neck stretch
Appropriate for pre-and post-exercise
• Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and with slightly bended knees, hold light weight (either a small dumbbell or even a can of soup) in right hand and tilt your head to the left, bringing your left ear toward your left shoulder. To increase the stretch in front of the neck, bring chin slightly toward the floor. Hold here 10 to 20 seconds, then repeat on opposite side. This one simple move stretches the major muscles that contribute to neck tension, says Tricia Brouk, a personal trainer in New York City.
From Prevention

Take care to practice your shoulder stretching exercises before the neck stretching exercises. Neck and shoulder tension is a common problem that causes a lot of discomfort. Minimize risk of pain and help your exercise performance with these stretching exercises. Short, tight muscles… be gone.