Neck Stretching

In this post, I’ll be reviewing how to do neck stretches. The goal here is to stretch out your neck muscles prior to beginning your voice work-out. There are muscles on all sides of your neck, so we need to stretch the front, sides and back of the neck, slowly and carefully so that we don’t injure ourselves.

Begin by standing or sitting very tall, with your shoulders wide in the front and in the back. Keeping your lips together, let your jaw drop, so that there is plenty of room in your mouth. The idea here is to relax the mouth, so that as you stretch the neck muscles you are reinforcing the good patterns in jaw and tongue. Speaking of the tongue, let your tongue relax in the bottom of your mouth with the tip behind the lower front teeth.

Side Stretching

Drop your head over to the left, and reach your left hand up and over the top of your head so it rests just above your right ear. In all of these exercises, it is important not to pull, but to merely let the weight of your hand assist in maintaining the stretch. Now reach your right hand down and away, as if you’re reaching for something just out of reach with your finger tips. Hold this position for 20 seconds. Now, drop the left hand from off the top of your head, and let your right arm relax while your head floats back up to the centre.

Repeat to the right.

Back-Side Stretching

Just like you did in the last exercise, drop your head over to the left to begin, but then turn your nose toward your armpit. When you reach your left hand up and over the top of your head, this time it will rest just behind your right ear. Now reach your right hand down and away, as if you’re reaching for something just out of reach, but this time reach with the heel of your hand, as if you’re trying to put the palm of your hand on a table top. Hold this position for 20 seconds. Now, drop the left hand from off the top of your head, and let your right arm relax while your head floats back up to the centre.

Repeat to the right.

Front-Side Stretching

Similar to the last exercise, drop your head over to the left to begin, but then turn your nose upward to an 45 degree angle. When you reach your left hand up and over the top of your head, this time it will rest in front of your right ear, on your right temple. Now reach your right hand down and away, as if you’re reaching for something just out of reach, but this time turn the palm of your hand up toward the ceiling. Hold this position for 20 seconds. Now, drop the left hand from off the top of your head, and let your right arm relax while your head floats back up to the centre.

Repeat to the right.

Back of Neck Stretching with your Head to the front

Drop your head forward, with your chin near your chest. Place your hands on the back of your head and interlace your fingers. Press your head upwards, into your hands, while resisting the movement with your hands (so your head does not move). Release the pressure, and see whether your head drops any further toward your chest. Repeat 5 or 6 times.

Front of Neck Stretching with your Head Tilted Up

Start by thrusting your jaw gentle forward into a mild underbite position. Lift your chin (by tilting your head back) until your neck is stretched out. Now turn your head to the left. Hold for 20 seconds. Now move your head to the right, and hold that stretch for 20 seconds. Release the neck by backtracking through each step: turn the head back to mid line, bring the chin back down to the horizon, release your jaw.

Rotation Stretch

The final stretch is to rotate your head to the left, as if you’re trying to look behind you. Hold that position for 20 seconds. Bring your head back to the midline and then turn your head to the right for 20 seconds. Do each side up to 5 times.

 

NEXT STEP: Breath in the Pelvic Bowl

Eric Armstrong is the voiceguy. Eric is a dialect, voice, speech and text coach based in Toronto, Canada, where he normally teaches full-time at York University’s Dept. of Theatre. Eric has been teaching voice for the actor full-time since 1994, and has taught in Canada and the US, at the University of Windsor, Brandeis University, Roosevelt University, Canada's National Voice Intensive and York University. He has worked for nationally and internationally recognized companies such as Crow’s Theatre, Volcano, SoulPepper, & Canadian Stage in Toronto, and The Court Theatre and Steppenwolf in Chicago. Eric holds a BFA from Concordia University (Montreal) in Theatre Performance, and an MFA from York University (Toronto) in Acting. His mentors were David Smukler (York, Canada’s National Voice Intensive) and Andrew Wade (Royal Shakespeare Company). He has also studied at the Drama Studio, London, and Il Stage Internazzionale di Commedia dell’Arte in Reggio Emilia, Italy. He’s a long time member of the Voice and Speech Trainers Association, where he has served on the board, as a conference planner, photo editor for the Voice and Speech Review, Founding Director of Technology and Internet Services, and has written numerous peer-reviewed articles, essays and reviews for the VASTA Newsletter, the VASTA Voice, and The Voice and Speech Review.

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