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Helpful Exercises for Cervical Dystonia

Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju
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Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju

A rare motor disorder is a spastic torticollis. It causes uncontrolled contraction of the neck muscles. It can cause you to have an abnormal head position. You may also have heard the name cervical dystonia. Adults with torticollis may experience pain and exhibit unusual postures or motions. You cannot cure dystonia, although therapies can lessen the symptoms.

Exercise is one of these therapies. Physical therapy for spasmodic torticollis can assist increase muscle power and coordination. It can help lessen the symptoms of dystonia.

If you live with cervical dystonia, you know how important it is to find helpful exercises. Exercise can help you relieve your symptoms. This blog article will discover several valuable practices for people with cervical dystonia. If you want more information on managing your condition, be sure to talk to your doctor or therapist. Thanks for reading!

Exercises to Relief Adult Torticollis

Cranial torticollis can make it difficult to perform everyday tasks. But even worse, you can get a severe curvature of the neck. Exercises for adult torticollis aim not to worsen the condition. You need it to reduce its symptoms. It is necessary to track not only your posture, but also some other indicators. We are talking about weight, nutrition, and the correct position of the back while working. To do this, it is worth resorting to gymnastic exercises in the cervical-shoulder area.

exercises to relief adult torticollis

The uncomplicated form of spastic torticollis requires treatment combined with preventive measures. It is necessary to ensure that the neck muscles are not overstretched. 

In most cases, the best exercises for torticollis include stretching. Sometimes you can add a range of motion exercises to it. You should perform the stretch slowly and carefully. Excessive force may cause more pain or discomfort.

Here are some helpful torticollis neck exercises. You can do them to relieve your symptoms:

Relax Stiff Neck Muscles

One of the best torticollis exercises for adults and children is to relax the muscles in the neck. It will allow you to eliminate pain and reduce the severity of torticollis. To do this, do the following steps:

  • Sit upright in a chair that is comfortable for you. 
  • Take a few deep breaths to calm down and ensure a relaxed body. 
  • Then slowly tilt your head to the left. Hold that position for 10-15 seconds, gently stretching your neck muscles.
  • Then tilt your head to the right and stay there for 10-15 seconds, stretching your neck muscles gently.
  • Repeat this three times.

Such stretching for torticollis will help you to relax the neck muscles and reduce pain.

Forward Head Pulls

This torticollis neck exercise will help you strengthen your neck muscles. But at the same time you will also stretch them. To perform it, do the following steps:

  • Sit or stand up straight.
  • Keep your head straight, chin parallel to the floor, and shoulders completely relaxed. 
  • Take a deep breath, tilt your head, and pull your chin slightly towards your chest.
  • Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds.
  • Slowly raise your head back up and repeat the exercise twice.

This exercise will help stretch and strengthen your neck muscles. You will be able to reduce the pain associated with torticollis.

Neck Rotation

The Neck Rotation Exercise involves gently rotating the head from side to side. It helps stretch and relax the neck muscles, which will help reduce pain and stiffness. To perform neck rotation to relieve torticollis:

  • Sit comfortably with a straight back.
  • Slowly rotate your head from one side to the other without straining the muscles.
  • Hold each position for five seconds, then return to the starting position.
  • Repeat the exercise three to five times for each side.

Shoulder Shrugs

The shrug is another excellent exercise from spasmodic torticollis physical therapy. To perform it:

  • Sit or stand up straight, keeping your chin parallel to the floor.
  • Slowly lift your shoulders toward your ears and hold that position for five seconds.
  • Then slowly lower them back down.
  • Repeat this exercise three to five times.

The shrug helps relax the neck muscles and strengthens them. This way you can improve your posture, and reduce the pain. 

Wall Presses

The wall push-up is a great exercise to strengthen neck muscles. But also you can relieve pain associated with torticollis in adults. To perform this exercise:

  • Stand facing the wall, back straight, feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Press your palms against the wall at chest level. Then slowly bend forward, keeping your heels on the floor.
  • Stay in this position for 10-15 seconds, then slowly return to the starting position.
  • Repeat the exercise three times.

The wall press will help strengthen your neck muscles and reduce the pain.

Neck and Shoulder Self-Massage

Neck and shoulder self-massage is a great way to relieve tension in your neck muscles. To torticollis relief:

  • Find a comfortable place and sit on the floor or in a chair. Straighten your back and place your feet comfortably on the floor.
  • Gently rub your shoulders and neck, pressing as needed.
  • Focus on those areas that seem particularly tense.
  • Do this for 5-10 minutes, trying not to overstretch your muscles.

This self-massage will help relax your neck muscles and reduce the pain.

How to Build the Strategy to Do Exercises for Cervical Dystonia

woman does exercises for cervical dystonia

It is vital to build a strategy for exercising with cervical dystonia. Here are some tips to help you do this:

  • Set aside time each day to do torticollis neck exercises. Do them in the morning and evening or at least once a day.
  • If the exercises cause pain, stop them immediately and consult your doctor.
  • Be sure to take regular breaks between exercises. This way you allow your muscles to relax and recover from the exertion.
  • Increase the intensity of exercises for torticollis gradually. As you strengthen your neck muscles, you’ll be able to do more.
  • Try stretching for torticollis, such as yoga or Pilates. This way, you can strengthen your neck muscles further.

Your doctor may recommend physical therapists or other health care providers. They can give advice and support on exercises for torticollis.

For best results, it is crucial to follow an exercise regimen. If your neck is still stiff and sore, seek professional help.

Bottom Line

Regular physical therapy for spastic torticollis can help reduce pain. You can improve mobility in your neck, shoulders, and back. With time and diligence, you can manage your symptoms more effectively.

Our Lone Star Neurology clinic’s team of physical therapists is experienced in managing torticollis spasms. We can make an individual therapy plan for you. If you are unsure about doing the exercises, we are happy to help you. Contact us today to get started on your journey to relief.


  • How do you get rid of cervical dystonia?

You can manage cervical dystonia through medical treatment, physical therapy, and lifestyle modifications. Medications such as Botox injections may help reduce spasms, while physical therapy exercises can help strengthen the neck muscles and improve flexibility. 

  • How often should I do exercises for cervical dystonia?

It is recommended to exercise for at least 20 minutes every day. Start slow and gradually increase the intensity as your neck muscles strengthen. Remember to take regular breaks between exercises and to stop if it causes pain. 

  • How long should I do exercises for cervical dystonia? 

The length of time to do exercises for cervical dystonia depends on the individual and their condition. Generally, it is recommended to exercise for at least 20 minutes daily.

  • Can I swim with cervical dystonia?

Yes, swimming can be beneficial for people with cervical dystonia. Swimming is a low-impact exercise that can help strengthen the neck muscles and improve flexibility. 

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Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
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Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been more
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I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
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I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
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Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your more
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Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
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I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 more
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Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best more
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I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my more
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03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
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Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
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Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding more
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I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
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15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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  1. 24/06/2023

    Thank you for sharing these exercises for strengthening your neck muscles. I have incorporated them in my morning exercise routine.

  2. 06/07/2023

    I’ve been in pain for 2 days now, I did these exercises this morning and my muscles feel a bit relaxed already. I took my diazepam, ibuprofen and co-Codamol along with my regular dystonia medication last night and they didn’t work these exercises have helped thank you

  3. 06/08/2023

    What medication do they prescribe for dystonia?

  4. 03/11/2023

    I have severe cervical dystonia. It is debilitating. It is not a 2 day thing. It is a chronic 24 hour a day contraction in your neck. It may take years to diagnosis. As I continue to seek answers to lead a less pain free life, your exercise recommendations help. I appreciate it.

  5. 18/01/2024

    The left side of my head caused this and I’m epileptic so I’m always in pain plus the neglect to my health from trauma My doctor should have given me a helmet as a baby to correct my posture

  6. 02/03/2024

    Have Cervical Dystonia forany years.

    Do you have exercises for Anterocollis?

    Does walking help?

    Rating 5.

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