Simple Neck Exercises – For Poor Posture and Poking Chin
Poor upper neck posture is almost universal as we spend much of our lives sitting in one way or another, to rest, to drive, to work, to operate computers and to watch television. Because many of us sit with a poor low back posture, with our lumbar spines slumped into flexion, this rounds the thoracic spine and brings the head forward so we are looking down. Due to the fact that we want our heads to be looking forward mostly and not down, we tip our faces up and put our necks into extension. This results in the typical poor sitting posture of rounded upper thorax, rounded shoulders, poking chin and neck extended.
Maintaining the typical poor neck posture for a long period, perhaps even over years at work or when resting, causes changes in the tissues around the area which adapt to the new posture and tighten in some areas whilst stretching in others. As the problem worsens the neck and upper thorax tolerate less and less being taken out of their usual poor position and the posture becomes fixed with reduction in ranges of movement, pain and discomfort. Gradually this will limit the ability to use a computer or sit watching the television and start to impinge on the person''s life. Physiotherapy assessment will pick all these factors up and form a plan to reverse the changes which have occurred.
Postural correction is a simple but important start point for this process as correcting the poor lumbar slump will automatically improve the posture of the thorax, shoulders and neck. This correction will need to be maintained and re-corrected constantly until your body gets used to the fact that the new posture is the normal one. Your physio may give you exercises to mobilise the upper thorax and shoulders and is likely to teach you cervical retraction, an exercise which is difficult for some to get the hang of.
Cervical retraction, or chicken shift or chin tuck or double chin exercise, is done by keeping the face forward as normal and tucking the whole head in towards the rear. Your chin should not go up or down and this exercise forces all the neck joints towards the ends of their movement, a position they have not seen for a while is poor posture is you problem. Slow repetition of this exercise restores a more normal potential posture for the upper neck and mobilises all the neck facet joints.
Author: Jonathan Blood-Smyth