Neck muscles are bodies of tissue that produce motion in the neck when stimulated. The muscles of the neck run from the base of the skull to the upper back and work together to bend the head and assist in breathing.
The motion of the muscles of the neck are divided into four categories: rotation, lateral flexion, flexion, and hyperextension. Rotation describes the action of moving the head from side to side, lateral motion brings the ear to the shoulder, flexion moves the chin to the chest (as in looking down), and hyperextension moves the neck so that the head tilts upward.
It is important to keep the muscles of neck strong to maintain proper function and avoid injuries and neck pain. The main function of the muscles of neck is head movement, but they also contribute to the maintenance of blood flow to the brain and holding the head upright.
The most common causes of neck pain are strain or tension in the muscles of neck. Most neck pain can be relieved by applying heat or ice, reducing physical activity, stretching the aching area through slow range-of-motion exercises, massage, or by taking over-the-counter pain relievers.