neck exercises for cervical spondylosis

Top 10 exercises for cervical spondylosis

Can exercises for cervical spondylosis help in managing an early-stage cervical spondylosis condition? Yes and the sooner you start, the better! Get to know how about top 10 exercises to get relief from Cervical Spondylosis pain.

Neck pain medically termed as ‘cervical spondylosis’, has become a common problem, experienced by most of us at some point in our lives. It is an age-related medical problem, mostly seen above the age of 40. A modern lifestyle that can involve longer working hours and lack of both exercise and rest is causing people to suffer from neck pain at a much younger age. Cervical spondylosis is a degenerative condition which occurs due to the wear and tear of the cartilages and bones of the cervical spine. It is also referred as cervical osteoarthritis or neck arthritis.

List of Exercises for Cervical Spondylosis

1. Types of exercises for Cervical Spondylosis
2. Neck Flexion and Extension (Drop and Raise)
3. Head Tilt toward left and right side
4. Neck Rotation
5. Neck Retraction
6. Shoulder Rolls
7. Neck Extension
8. Neck Flexion
9. Side Bending
10. Neck Stretching (right and left side)
11. Sternocleidomastoid (SCM) Stretch
12. Prevention of Cervical Spondylosis

Here are 10 types of cervical spondylosis exercises you can try for relieving cervical spondylosis or neck pain. Workout smooth and gently throughout while performing each exercise. Avoid sudden movements which could hurt even more.

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Types of exercises for Cervical Spondylosis

Exercises for spondylosis can be broadly classified into three different types, namely Flexibility Exercises, Isometric Exercises and Stretching Exercises.

Flexibility exercises:

To maintain flexibility and range of motion of your neck, try these cervical spondylosis physical therapy exercises:

Flexibility Exercises  –   Exercise 1 to 5

Isometric exercises :

In isometric exercises, the hand provides resistance. It is important to begin these exercises in an erect position. So, sit up straight and slightly tuck your chin before beginning.

Isometric Exercises  –    Exercise 6 to 8

Stretching exercises:

Neck stretching exercises are necessary to maintain good posture and to prevent neck injuries.

Stretching Exercises –   Exercise 9 and 10

Ten Exercises for Cervical Spondylosis

1. Neck Flexion and Extension (Drop and Raise)

cervical spondylosis exercises pictures

Stand up straight or sit in a chair. Slowly drop your head forward until your chin touches your chest. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds. Return to your starting position. Next, lean your head slightly back. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat the stretch in each direction 5 times.

This stretch works both the front and back of your neck to increase flexibility and movement.

2. Head Tilt toward left and right side

cervical spondylosis exercises pictures

Sit in a chair or stand up straight. Slowly tilt your head toward your right shoulder while keeping your left shoulder down. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds. Return to center. Repeat on the left side, tilting your head toward your left shoulder while holding your right shoulder down. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat the whole sequence 5 times. This opposing motion works the sides of your neck.

3. Neck Rotation

Here is another good exercise for the sides of your neck.

Stand up or sit in a chair with good posture. Slowly turn your head to the right, keeping your chin straight. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds. Return to center. Slowly turn your head to the left. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds. Return to center. Repeat five times on each side.

4. Neck Retraction

cervical spondylosis exercises pictures

Sit in a chair with your shoulders back and your head straight. Pull your chin straight in, without dipping it down. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds and feel the stretch in your neck. Return to your original position. Repeat 5 times.

Cervical Collar Soft with Support

Cervical Collar Soft with Support

5. Shoulder Rolls

Shoulder Rolls Exercise

While you focus on your neck, don’t neglect your shoulders. Exercising your shoulders also strengthen the muscles that support your neck. Shoulder rolls are a basic, easy exercise to keep your shoulder and neck joints fluid.

Sit in a chair or stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Roll your shoulders up, back, and down in one smooth motion. Repeat five times. Then reverse the motion, rolling your shoulders up, forward, and down. Repeat 5 times.

Given below are a group of isometric exercises that may be beneficial to relieve and prevent cervical spondylosis or (neck pain) and enhances to build strength, flexibility, and increase the range of motion.

6. Neck Extension

cervical spondylosis exercises pictures

Place your palms at the base of the head and apply light forward pressure. Meet the resistance with your head and neck.

7. Neck Flexion

Place the index and middle fingers of both your hands in between your eyes, and apply light backward pressure, meet the resistance with your head and neck.

8. Side Bending

cervical spondylosis exercises pictures

Sit erect with your head in a neutral position; place your palms above/around the ear. Apply light pressure with the hand and meet the resistance with the head.

9. Neck Stretching (right and left side)

stretching exercises for cervical spondylosis_Neck_stretching_right_and_left_side

Take right ear towards right shoulder until a stretch is felt on the left side. Add to stretch by adding little pressure from the right hand and ensuring left shoulder is kept down. Just a gentle stretch should be felt. Repeat on opposite side. Hold for 10 to 15 sec for each side.

10. Sternocleidomastoid  (SCM) Stretch

stretching exercises for cervical spondylosis_stretching_exercises_for_cervical_spondylosis_sternocleidomastoid_stretching

The sternocleidomastoid is the large, rope-like muscle at the front of each side of the neck. This becomes tight with a forward head position. Stretch by looking over the right shoulder, and then tilting the head back. Repeat on opposite side. Hold for 10 to 15 sec for each side.

Prevention of Cervical Spondylosis:

There are no specific methods which can prevent the pathologic process of cervical spondylosis. However, you can avoid the occurrence of the condition by following some preventive measures, such as:


  • Regular exercises to enhance flexibility, motion, and strength of the neck.
  • Always take some mini breaks (5-10 min) while working on the computer or any other activity that requires continuous sitting.
  • Always use a thin pillow and firm mattresses.
  • When getting up from lying position, always take a turn to one side first, and then get up.
  • If the pain is acute, then take medicines as directed by your doctor, immobilize the neck and take complete rest.
Know about Pain Relief Medication
  • Use a firm cervical collar, if you are traveling for an extended period of time. Cervical pillow allows the neck to be in hyperextended position and relaxes the neck muscles that generally get strained during the daytime activities.

Contoured Cervical Pillow

Contoured Cervical Pillow


  • Do not run or do strenuous exercises if you are a suffering from neck pain or cervical spondylosis.
  • Avoid sitting for a prolonged time in one position.
  • Do not drive for extended periods.
  • Avoid bad roads, if traveling by two or four wheeler.
  • Avoid taking more than one pillow under the head.
  • Avoid lifting the heavy weight on the head or neck.
  • Move your feet first when you turn around; instead, avoid twisting your body or head while you turn around.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Avoid sitting for a prolonged time in stressful postures.

If for some reason an experienced doctor is not available around you, then you can contact us here.

Photo credit: numberstumper via / CC BY-SA

Dr. Kaleem Mohammed graduated as a Bachelor of Physiotherapy in 2014 from Deccan College of Physiotherapy, affiliated to Dr. N.T.R. University of Health Sciences, Vijayawada, India. Dr. Kaleem is an expert at handling physiotherapy needs of patients suffering from orthopedic and spinal conditions and post-surgery rehabilitation. Dr. Kaleem is associated with HealthClues since its inception where he facilitates diagnosis and advanced consultation with senior doctors. He is also a medical researcher and prolific writer who loves sharing insightful commentaries and useful tips to educate the patient community about fitness, treatment options, and post-treatment recovery.

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Top 10 exercises for cervical spondylosis Overall rating: ★★★★★ 5 based on 9 reviews
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I’ve checked out a number of sites for this condition and have rated the information on this site to be the best. In particular, providing neck exercise diagrams is of great assistance

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Cervical Spondylosis Very well explained. Thanks

8 thoughts on “Top 10 exercises for cervical spondylosis

    • i m suffering from neck pain along with head pain (heaviness of head back side front as well), i had commit to MRI on 2016 finally report shown “straightening of cervical is seen”. i had taken many treatment but not satisfactory result comes to me till now. therefore this is kindly request to you may please advice for above problems.

  1. Very helpful exercises. Thank you for the presentation. Pictorial images helped understanding the method of exercising.

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