Anatomy of a muscle
The muscles that comprise the deep neck flexors, specifically the longus colli, longus capitis and the rectus capitis anterior are located on the front side of the spine of the neck. They are responsible for neck flexion, or bringing the chin to the chest and neck retraction, or making a double chin.
Longus colli Longus capitis Rectus capitis anterior
Causes of weakness
Long periods of forward head, that position where your chin is jutted out in front of you causing your ear to be forward of your shoulder. This position elongates and weakens these muscles. People who work at a computer for long hours at a time have a propensity toward forward head.
Lie on your back on the floor with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent 90 degrees. Hands are crossed over your stomach
Place a book that is approximately 1 inch thick, the thickness of your index and middle finger together, under the back of your head
Make a double chin
Making sure to keep the double chin, barely lift the back of the head off the book and hold this position
You should be able to keep this position for :30 if you are sedentary, 1:00 if you are active and up to 2:00 if you are an athlete
A progression of chin tucks will strengthen these muscles. Perform each movement until 3 sets of 15 can be performed with ease and there is no soreness in the following days.
1. Standing chin tucks
Stand with your back against the wall with your buttocks, shoulders and the back of your head against the wall. If you can’t touch the back of the wall with your head place a small pillow behind your head
Make a double chin by placing a hand on your chin and pulling your chin back toward the wall. You hand is there as a guide to make sure your chin stays level
Hold for a couple seconds then relax and repeat for a total of 8 to 15 repetitions
2. Supine chin tucks
Same as above but lying on your back
3. Standing chin tuck with elastic band
Stand facing a wall approximately an arms-length away
Place an elastic band around the back of the neck and hold one end of the band in each hand
Place your hands against the wall at shoulder height
Push yourself as far away from the wall as you can and at the same time lower your shoulders. This will protract and depress your shoulders and take the dominant muscles out of the picture, the upper trapezius, scalene and levator scapulae.
Slowly make a double chin by pulling your chin straight backwards making sure to keep you chin level
Hold for 2 to 4 seconds and return to the starting position
Repeat for 8 to 15 repetitions
These exercises can be performed daily and, in some cases, multiple times a day to help build up those anterior neck muscles. Incorporate this with releasing the upper trapezius and levator scapulae muscles and combine with ergonomically correct placement of your office space and say bye to your forward head and neck pain.
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