We develop a muscle imbalance in our necks due to the head forward posture we talked about last week. As a result of the head forward posture, our muscles in the front of our neck get weak and lengthened and the muscles in the back of your neck get stronger and tighter. A great analogy is to think of your neck as if it was a large circus tent post holding up a large tent. The front muscles would represent loose and lengthened guide ropes, and on the opposite side the guide ropes are tight. As a result, the tent post would lean to the tight side putting an abnormal load on the post, which would wear the post out sooner than if it had equal tension on each side to hold it straight up.
We need to reverse the muscle imbalance. Last week we talked about how to stretch the chest and latissimus dorsi muscles. This week we want to share with you how to strengthen and shorten up the weak and lengthened muscles in the front of the neck.
- On the floor lie down on your back with your knees on a wedge or pillows to relax your lower back.
- Tuck your chin toward your neck to create a double chin in the front. The back of your head will slide up toward the top of your head.
- Hold within your pain free intensity for 10 seconds and repeat up to 10 times.
Chin Tuck and Head Lift
- Once you have done the chin tuck for 1 – 2 weeks and it is easy to do, you need to advance to the chin tuck and head lift.
- Tuck your chin and keep it tucked as you lift your head 1 – 2 inches off the floor.
- Hold for as long as you can pain free or until you fatigue and can no longer hold your head up.
- This is a humbling exercise and you need to commit to doing it for 12 weeks.
- Normal hold times are 89 seconds for females and 2 minutes and 30 seconds for males.
- At home, hold for up to 1 minute, then rest for 1 minute, then repeat a second time holding for up to 1 minute. Do this 2 times per day until normal hold times are achieved, then reduce to 2 – 3 times per week once a day, to maintain.
- Only test your hold times once per week, and expect a change of only 5 – 10 seconds per week.
Come and try out a massage for your Christmas aches at our Nose Creek Physiotherapy clinic in Calgary (587.355.2738), ask for Paul who would be happy to help you with neck relief.