In last week’s post I discussed the beginning stages of a “postural syndrome” that occurs due to many of our sedentary lifestyles. I addressed the upper trapezius, and levator scapulae muscles which become increasingly tight in many of us pulling our shoulders forward creating that “slumped” postural appearance and forward head carriage (see below.)
It is important to begin stretching these tight muscles immediately if you are experiencing back or neck pain. If these muscles stay in this abnormal strained position no matter how many times we mobilize the joints the muscles will be pulling everything right back.
Be patient! These postural distortions did not happen over-night and will not be fixed over night. Much like your muscles make the necessary connections to learn to ride a bicycle or a skateboard, your body will also adapt to abnormal postural stress’s creating a “postural syndrome” seen above.
Now that we have began stretching the tight, over-active, muscles, we must also address the muscles which have become under-active due to these compensations. The group of muscles that we will address today are known as the Deep Neck Flexors. Due to the forward head carriage (see above) these muscles become increasingly under-active due the over-activity of the upper trapezius and levator muscles, among others we will discuss.
The deep neck flexors are a group of muscles consisting of the Longus Colli, Longus Capitis, Rectus Capitis Anterior, and Rectus Capitis Lateralis. This group of muscles is responsible for forward and side bending of the head and neck. They serve to support the weight of the head, and stabilize the head and neck; similar to the abdominal core making them essential for proper posture.
Corrective Exercise to Strengthen the Deep Neck Flexors:
Chin Tucks- Perform 3 sets, 10 reps 1x/day (see picture below for example)
-One of the easiest ways to perform this exercise is by placing your back and head flush against the wall in a standing position.
-I will often times recommend a rolled towel behind the neck (not shown here) which will serve as biofeedback and helps many patients feel a better contraction.
-With your back and head against the wall draw your chin and head back into the wall creating a “double chin.”
-You should feel a mild stretch in the back of your neck and a contraction in the front of your neck.
-Hold this “double chin” position for 2-3s before relaxing the position, and then repeating.
Stay tuned for next week’s post where we will begin to address the chest and mid-back.
If you would like to have your posture professionally evaluated and develop a plan that will meet your specific needs Click Here to schedule a consultation.