Deep Neck Flexor - simplified version

Posted by David Wang 5 years, 2 months ago Comments

Ever since a very young age and being the avid computer gamer that I am, I've spend a chunk of my life in front of the monitor. For a very long time, I've been troubled with frequent neck pain and pounding headaches, and it wasn't until getting into chiropractic school that I then understood the condition can actually be treated. Interestingly, most people feel that postural pain is inevitable and we should just learn to live with it. That's just not true.

When living a life on the desk and chair, your posture slowly deteriotes because anyone will eventually get tired and start losing their upright posture. After just a few hours (or minutes) at the workstation the head starts to crouch forward, the hump of your upper back begins to curve and the lower back rounds. What almost always follows is a series of neck soreness and achiness. In the long run (months and years), your body starts adapting in an unfavorable way to the desk and chair. Treatment and pain medication for all sorts of related-conditions can be painstakingly irritating and expensive, especially if the patient chooses to just treat the symptoms and not the source of the problem - the weak 'deep neck flexor'.

It's unrealistic to get people to stop using their smartphone, to always sit up-right, or to simply stop sitting. However, it is actually very effective to just take a moment every 30 minutes of sitting (or everytime you can remind yourself) to sit upright again and do a 1 minute exercise that is essential in activating the deep neck flexor muscles. Thus, in this routine, we will go over the deep neck flexor exercise - hereon abbreviated as the DNF routine.

This technique is meant to strengthen the frontal half of your neck, because the back half of your neck does all the work holding your head up and it just isn't fair. The technique can be performed anywhere and anytime, even as you are having neck pain or amidst a bout of tension headache.

↑ Deep neck flexors strengthening exercise
- chin-tuck -

  1. Lift your chest up and broaden your chest by un-rounding your shoulders backwards.
  2. Your head should be neutral, not looking up or down but looking straight ahead of you.
  3. Pull your head backwards by tucking your chin in and towards your throat.
  4. You want to feel quite a bit of muscle contraction in front of your throat.
  5. Hold this contraction. 
  6. Further un-round the shoulders by bringing the shoulder blades in and closer towards to the spine. This is shoulder retraction. 
  7. Feel for muscle contractions in between the shoulder blades.
  8. Hold the chin-tuck and shoulder blade retraction simultaneous for 1 minute.
  9. Perform this exercise as often as possible. I.E. more than 10 times a day.

The technique described is an entry level version meant for those who are in pain or recovering from neck injuries or for those who are concerned about their sitting posture. More advanced versions of postural corrections of the upper body are certainly available, but it is crucial to at least spend a couple weeks to master the DNF so that you have good fundamentals to build on as you advance forward, which is described in more detail in the following entry - How to build a stronger neck (part 1).

- David  

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