Ideally, the head is held comfortably above the torso without undue pressure through the muscles of the neck and joints of the cervical spine. However, imbalances in the muscles, poor postural awareness and repetition of the same positions and movements over time can create disharmony in the musculature and excessive curvature in parts of the spine. This can lead to muscle fatigue and pain, chronic tightness and associated weakness and joint irritation, inflammation and potentially even neural symptoms. We have covered some simple stretches in our video blogs which go hand in hand with this strengthening exercise.
Neck pain is often felt through the posterior muscles and facet joints of the spine and little attention is paid to the structures at the front of the neck. Indeed, many people assume the spine is something that runs up the back of the body, through the bony parts of the spine that we can feel through the back. In actual fact, the supportive part of any vertebral joint is forwards of these bony prominences, through what is called the body of the vertebrae, with the bony processes at the back serving as attachment points for muscles and tendons.
In forward head posture the cervical spine is in an excessive amount of extension, or overly curved forwards. The skull is jammed down on the spine, resulting in poor awareness and movements in the uppermost vertebrae and overuse of vertebrae in the middle portion of the neck. The extensor muscles are chronically tight and the musculature sitting along the front of the spine, the deep cervical neck flexors, are lengthened and weak. The following exercise works very well with stretches for the sternocleidomastoid and levator scapula muscles to address muscular imbalance and restore better positioning of the neck and head.
Instructions | Neck Strength
Sitting or standing upright, with the torso stacked above the pelvis, slide the head backwards, to bring the head back over the torso.
This action can be thought of as sliding the cheekbones back, through the line of the ear, perhaps with the slightest of chin tucks to keep the skull level and imagining the back of the skull and the back of the neck coming in line with one another.
The end position is likely to make you feel like you have a double chin!
Ensure the SCM muscles which run on each side from the collar bones to behind the ear are kept soft. It is the deep muscles running along the front of the spine and which sit behind the larynx which we are trying to strengthen.
Perform 10 repetitions several times throughout the day with a slight pause in the retracted position.
Melbourne Natural Therapies