When you stretch your neck, does it really help? For many people, sitting at the work station makes their neck and shoulders very stiff and sore. The obvious thing to do is to stretch the area. Unfortunately for most people, stretching this area feels good for a few minutes but the pain doesn’t really change in the long-term. Have you tried strengthening?
Stretching for neck pain…does it work?
Strengthening for Neck Pain
Many people accept the idea that strengthening the abdominal muscles is a good way to prevent (or help resolve) lower back pain. For some reason the neck doesn’t get the same appreciation. Numerous studies have now shown that many patients with chronic neck pain show a deficiency in function of the deep cervical flexors. In other words, the muscles in the front of your neck (deeper than the superficial layers that you can see) are not at their optimum for assisting the various joints and structures of the neck. For those people who display weakness in this area, strengthening should be helpful.
Treatment for Neck Pain
So how do you strengthen this area of the neck? Unfortunately, this is a tricky one to explain through a blog. Strengthening of the deep neck flexors is very helpful for many people with neck pain because there are certain muscles “doing too much work” and we want to correct this imbalance. Incorrect form when strengthening this area could actually perpetuate the muscle imbalance and be of no help to the person with neck pain.
As much as the internet can be a handy place to learn “do it yourself” strategies for different things, strengthening of the deep neck flexors is not really one of them. Despite this, we’ve listed the instructions for strengthening of the deep neck flexors below. It is strongly recommended that you consult with a suitable healthcare practitioner to ensure proper technique with this exercise.
Deep Neck Flexor Strengthening
Lie flat on the floor and place your tongue on the roof of the mouth. Tuck your chin toward your chest (just slightly) while leaving your head on the floor. While maintaining this “chin tuck”, lift the head off the floor approximately one inch. This position should be held for as long as possible, however the skull must stay in a “tucked” position. If the chin begins to move outward, discontinue the exercise and rest.
Jull GA, O’Leary SP, Falla DL. Clinical assessment of the deep cervical flexor muscles: the craniocervical flexion test. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2008; 525-533.