We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Are Head Rolls?

By Kelly Ferguson
Updated Jan 25, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Head rolls are a series of movements in a stretching exercise that targets the muscles of the neck, and to a lesser extent, the muscles of the shoulder and upper back. They are usually part of a warm up or cool down stretch before and after a workout, but head rolls can also be very relaxing to do periodically throughout the day to relieve tension in the neck, shoulders, and back. In fact, many people consider head rolls to be a great "desk exercise" that can be performed unobtrusively while sitting at a desk at work to relieve some of the muscle tightness that many workers get from stress and from sitting in one position for long periods of time.

A head roll can be performed in a variety of positions, but most commonly is done either standing up or kneeling on hands and knees on the floor. Most fitness resources actually recommend that individuals not incorporate a rolling motion of the head by rotating the neck during the stretch, despite the name "head rolls," and instead suggest that a gentle tilting motion with a return to the center, upright position between each movement is the safest way to perform this stretch. In doing this, the head can be either gently pulled to each side with the hands or simply dropped to the shoulder to let gravity gently stretch the muscles. The head is often also dropped forward, with the chin to the chest, to stretch the back of the neck. Some individuals choose to also drop the head backward, but some fitness professionals advise against doing this to avoid injury.

It is important that all of these movements be performed slowly. Although exercise instructions from many different sources use the phrase "drop the head," it is potentially harmful to actually let the head drop in a quick, jerking motion. Instead, gently raise and lower the head toward the shoulders and chest, and possibly toward the back, making sure to bring the head back to a neutral position between each movement to ensure that the neck is not twisted in a rolling motion.

As with any other exercise, stop the exercise immediately if a movement is painful or uncomfortable. This is especially true of exercises such as this that involve a lot of spinal movement. Also, individuals with back or neck injuries should first ask a doctor if it is safe to perform head rolls and other similar exercises.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By nextcorrea — On Mar 10, 2012

I got into a car accident and suffered really bad whip lash a few years ago. As part of my physical therapy I was doing a lot of head rolls. My physical therapist also hooked me up to a special machine that allowed me to do weighted head rolls so that I could build up some strength in my neck.

By tigers88 — On Mar 10, 2012

I do a stretching routine every night before I go to bed and I start with head rolls. I think this is one of the most beneficial and pleasurable stretches you can do. There is no feeling more uncomfortable than a stiff neck.

I start with the head and neck and then work my way down the body until I end with the feet and toes. The routine leaves me feeling loose and limber and I think it is as important to full body health and eating well and exercising.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.