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3 Best Neck Stretches For Your Vestibular Dysfunction

Vestibular disorders such as dizziness, motion sensitivity, and imbalance can leave you feeling frustrated, alone, and TENSE!

neck stretches for dizziness

All that tension your body is trying to manage has a funny way of often ending up in your neck.

You might feel that pang of pain after driving, or when trying to read, or maybe you wind up losing sleep from tossing and turning because you just can’t find a comfortable position!

The frustrations continue to pile up, and the cycle of pain continues to leave you feeling hopeless….BUT, the good news is that neck pain, including cervicogenic dizziness and cervicogenic headaches is often not caused by a serious condition and is very treatable.

Managing Your Neck Pain

A great way to help manage your neck pain is by stretching and mobility work, especially addressing any problems in your upper cervical spine (that is, the part of your neck closest to your skull).

There’s plenty of evidence that has shown that problems in this part of your neck can lead to headaches and can contribute to vestibular dysfunction.

Here is a video of my 3 favorite favorite neck stretches for people suffering with dizziness.

In case you're the kind of person who likes written instructions better, here they are:

1. Levator Scapulae Stretch


  • Begin sitting upright in a chair, grasping the edge with one hand.


  • Rotate your head to the side opposite your anchored arm, then tuck your chin towards your chest. With your free hand, grasp the back of your head and gently pull it downward until you feel a stretch and hold.

Neck Stretches for Dizziness - Levator Scapulae


  • Make sure to keep your back straight during the exercise.


  • If the stretch is too intense, don’t pull with your free hand (and allow gravity to do it’s thing), and/or decrease the length of your hold time.


  • 3-5 times holding for 10-15 seconds each direction

2. Suboccipital release/Chin tuck


  • Begin sitting or lying down your back with your neck relaxed.


  • Gently tuck your chin directly backward as if you are making a double chin. Hold, then relax and repeat.

neck stretches for dizziness


  • Make sure not to lift your head from the ground and keep your jaw relaxed


  • Can try this with a towel behind your neck


  • 10 times, hold for 10 seconds

3. Upper cervical flexion and rotation


  • Perform exercise seated or standing


  • Flex your neck so your chin moves towards your chest.

  • From the flexed position, rotate your head to the left, then to the right, holding for a few seconds in each position

Neck Stretches for Dizziness - Upper cervical flexion and rotation


  • Move through range as tolerated

  • You can maintain the flexed position throughout the exercise, or rest in between.


  • 3-5 times holding for 10-15 seconds each direction

What Else Can Help Neck Pain?

1. Posture

Your posture is important so that your muscles and ligaments are at their most optimal throughout your entire day.

Optimizing your posture can help reduce strain and improve your energy and mood.

Here a few posture tips to improving your sitting posture:

  • Keep your monitor at eye level, and place your keyboard close to your body.

  • Sit in a chair with back support to avoid slumping

  • Make sure your feet are firmly planted on the ground, or use a footstool if your feet don’t reach the ground

  • Try to keep your phone or computer screen at eye level to avoid bending your neck

  • Keep your neck relaxed and avoid shrugging your shoulders

what helps neck pain

So, more like this...

what helps neck pain

And less like this...

2. Taking Breaks From Sitting

Our bodies are designed for movement!

The more we sit, the more our muscles and ligaments get tighter and stiffer over time, this can lead to pain.

It’s recommended to keep your muscles loose by taking standing or walking breaks every 30-45 minutes and when possible, give your eyes a rest by looking away from your computer every 20 minutes and focusing on a distant object.

3. Aerobic exercise and strength training

Aerobic Exercise and Strength Training

As I mentioned before, your body is designed for movement. There is strong evidence that shows how aerobic exercise improves mood, pain, and even migraine symptoms!

But, when we have pain and dizziness we get stuck in a cycle: My body doesn’t feel good, so I stop moving, which (actually) makes me feel worse (more stiff, more fatigue, in more pain and more dizzy).

It is important to do something small each day, even if this looks like a 5 minute walk, or maybe getting up and down out of your chair 10 times. Find something that you feel good about, then continue to build on that each day doing a little bit more each time.

This is where it can be helpful to work with a physical therapist who is trained in understanding the complexities of the balance system (vestibular system) to help you achieve your goals while respecting your boundaries to get you back in control of your pain and dizziness and therefore your life!


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