Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Exercise of the Month: Strengthen Your Neck Core Muscles

Head Turns
Stand at a wall with your knees bent. Feel your buttocks, upper back, shoulders, and back of your head on the wall. There should be a small space between the wall and your low back and also the back of your neck.
  1. Lengthen the back of your neck and slightly tuck your chin so your face is not turned up nor down. This position alone may tax your neck core. If you feel the muscles in your neck working, stay in this position and breathe deeply for several breaths.
  2. Once you feel comfortable in the position, add head turns. Turn only as far as you can without any twinges or pain in your neck.
  3. Swivel your face to the right as the back of your head turns to the left. You will hear your hair sliding on the wall if the center of the movement comes from the center of your neck, which is what you want.
  4. Turn both directions up to three times.

You can print this exercise and tape a copy to your bathroom mirror as a reminder. Notice how much better your neck feels and how your range of motion improves with just one minute of daily exercise. (It's pretty good for your thighs, too.)

This next exercise strengthens the neck core even more.

Neck Flexion
Lie on the floor with your knees bent and feet on the floor.

  1. Put a finger at the base of your skull and lift your skull, but not the rest of your neck, off the floor about an eighth of an inch and rest back down gently. This movement is too tiny to show up on a photograph.
  2. Remember that core movements are slow and small.
  3. Feel down your neck for a bony bump, which is the back of a vertebra. Now lift this bump and the base of your skull, but not the rest of your neck, up just a tiny bit. Lift and release gently, slowly, just a fraction of an inch using each vertebra in your neck as the pivot point.
  4. Don’t Do Any Movement That Hurts! You want to feel the muscles in the front of your neck doing the lifting, not the muscles in your chest or abdomen.

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