Labor Day Hours

Labor Day Hours

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Neck Curve Exercises

Loss or reversal of the neck curve is common.  Sometimes, our patients ask, "Is there anything I can do get the curve back?"

First, let me inform you... there is NOT universal agreement among researchers or doctors about the real-life significance of loss or reversal of the neck curve.  Furthermore, there's significant disagreement about what constitutes "normal" alignment!  Here, I am NOT attempting to make a case one way or the other.
"Normal" Neck Curve (left) and Reversal of Curve

In my experience as a chiropractor, patients who perform neck-extension exercises usually feel better and move better... regardless of the amount of curve they get back into the neck.  So, do I recommend doing neck extension exercises?

Absolutely!

There are so many things we do in our modern lives involving flexing the head forward (for example, me... as I'm typing this on my laptop) that it makes sense to "train" the muscles to pull the head in the other direction periodically.

Here are a couple of easy neck extension exercises you can do:

Standing (preferred, as long as you don't get dizzy) or seated, hold a towel around the mid to lower neck, and pull the towel forward/down at about a 45 degree angle. 
Neck Extension, Start

Then, while you're pulling the towel forward, extend your head back (like looking up at the ceiling) and then go back to the starting position immediately.


Neck Extension, End

Repeat 100 times or more daily.  [I just did it, and it only took 97 seconds... so don't tell me you don't have time for this!]

If you're in a quiet area, you'll probably hear some creaky/crunchy sounds in your neck - that's normal.  You may get some mild muscle soreness after the first few times, which is expected since your muscles are not used to this, but STOP if you get dizzy, nauseous, or if the movement causes pain.

Here's another way to do the exercise:

Neck Extension with Broomstick, Start

Instead of the towel, use a broomstick as shown in the picture.

Neck Extension with Broomstick, End

This way has the advantage of engaging the muscles in the upper back and between your shoulder blades, too, so you're more likely to improve your slumping shoulder posture at the same time.  See the pattern here?  Both the towel and the broomstick create a fulcrum over which the neck bends backwards.

I'll post more alternative ways of doing this exercise as I take the photos, but feel free to e-mail me your photos of other ways you can think of doing neck extension exercises.

Let me know how this works for you.

Bruce Weisbein, D.C.

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