by Apple Therapy
Did you know that strengthening your neck muscles can have many benefits?
Over 40 years ago “The Core” was first coined referring to core strengthening exercises for the lower back. Since then, everyone has learned about how important it is to strengthen the core to help with low back pain or to keep the low back strong and healthy. There has been minimal discussion among the exercise community about core strengthening for the neck. With increased sitting and use of computers and phones, poor postural habits have been an issue.
In 2019, there was a study in the Journal of Pain Research looking at the effect of neck strengthening on chronic mechanical neck pain. They addressed the neck flexor muscles and the neck extensor-muscles in their study. The results showed that strengthening these specific muscle groups has a positive change in decreasing neck disability scores. Additionally, there was an improvement in neck posture and strength by the end of the study.
The neck flexor muscles include the longus capitus, longus colli, rectus capitus, and longus cervicus. The neck extensor muscle is the semispinalus.
These muscles help hold the upright posture of the neck. As we age, we lose endurance in these muscles and need to exercise them just like we do with the rest of our body. There are a couple of simple exercises you can do each morning or night while lying in your bed.
First strengthen the deep neck flexors
While lying flat, perform the motion of saying “yes” to make a double chin. hold this position and try to lift your head only ONE INCH or just hovering off the surface. Your head should feel very heavy. If you lift your head several inches up, then you will be using incorrect muscles. Hold it for 5 seconds then lower back and repeat the entire movement after returning your neck to neutral. Repeat this for 10 repetitions.
Second strengthening your neck extensors
Perform the chin tuck or double chin movement again and push the back of your head lightly into the surface while keeping your chin tucked. You should feel the muscles in the back of your neck engaging. Hold this position for 5 seconds and repeat for 10 repetitions. Make sure to rest for a couple seconds between each repetition.
Try to do these exercises 4-5 times per week and you should notice it is easier to hold your posture.