Stretching your muscles is a good way to decrease pain and aching. Here are some suggestions about getting the most from the stretches you already know:
1. The stretch should be done slowly and held for at least 30 seconds. (Watch the clock. Sometimes 30 seconds seems like forever.)
2. If you experience pain during your stretch, don't push yourself past that point. Do the stretch up to that point and then back it up into the pain free range. Hold your stretch there.
3. Keep breathing. Breathe deeply. It helps you and your muscles relax and increases the stretch.
4. Imagine the muscles and joints you're stretching. If you don't know specific anatomy, visualize the general area lengthening. Imagine the joints opening and softening.
5. If you've been given instructions about specific stretches, watch yourself in the mirror to make sure you are doing them correctly. If you are going to see the health care provider again who suggested the stretches to you, ask them to watch you stretch to make sure you are still doing them the right way.
6. Warming your muscles before stretching, either with a bath or in a shower, can increase the stretch. You can even do some neck stretches in the shower.