The C5 and C6 cervical vertebrae are the lowest neck vertebrae that lead into the shoulders. Neck position, hunching and bad sleep can all create a buildup of fascial tissue that holds the spine in a bad position. Osteoporosis, spinal compression and cervical disk degeneration are all things that many find will come with age, and which can complicate cervical issues further. Physical therapy can be done with neck and shoulder strengthening exercises, but the risk of injury if you are not careful is high, so a number of precautions should be taken.
Massage and Heat
Pressure point massage and heat applications can do a lot to break down some of the tissue that is holding the neck in an improper position. If you are worried about the cost of massage, consider getting a prescription from your doctor for treatment. This can help health insurance to cover the cost instead of you footing the entire bill.
Before doing any kind of exercises involving the neck, it's a good idea to stretch the area. Rotate your head in circles, toward the front, back and both shoulders. Only go until you feel pain, don't try to push past it. Make large circles with your arms as well, to stretch the shoulders at the base of the neck. Hold your arms limp, and rotate your torso so that your arms swing gently back and forth. Once you feel sufficiently loose, you can begin your exercises.
Neck Tension Exercises
The neck already holds up your head, and bears weight constantly. Resistance can be done simply with your hand and a straight-backed chair. Sit up straight and use your hand to push against your head. Place your hand on your forehead and press, pushing back to keep your head upright. Hold this for ten to thirty seconds. Repeat on both sides of the head and the back of the head as well. Repeat up to ten times.
A Word on Posture
One of the biggest ways to help and prevent additional injury to your neck, C5 and C6 vertebrae is to work on your posture. If you are unsure, have others take a picture of your neck, shoulder and head posture. Your chin should be parallel to the shore, and not downcast when you walk. Your proper relaxed posture of your shoulders is reached when you pull up, push them all the way back and then drop them into a relaxed position. If you are still unsure, place your head and back against a wall and try to find the position that allows most of your upper back and hips to be aligned on the wall. Your lower back and neck should both curve away from the wall, and the back of your head should gently touch as well.