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Use it or lose it - neck mobility

Updated: Jul 28, 2021

Exercise and stretching play a vital roll in mobility, especially for the cervical spine.

Muscle wasting

Sarcopenia is defined as age-related muscle loss and is a natural part of aging. After age 30, you begin to lose, on average, 10 pounds of lean muscle mass for every decade of adult life. This wasting away affects the way you move, your balance and your confidence. Squats are a good example of this. If you do not practice squatting at least every other day, you will lose that ability. Your muscles lose the strength and flexibility to drop your hips to knee level.

The cervical spine is another place affected by lack of movement as evidenced by the ability, or lack thereof, to turn the neck – think checking the blind spot when driving. However, it is possible to regain muscle mass at age 50 or older. A focus on movement including aerobic, strength and balance movements can reverse the effects of sarcopenia.

Neck rotations are a good way to regain range of motion and strengthen the muscles that turn the head side to side. This is how to do it.

  • Stand against a wall with the head, shoulders, and buttocks against the wall. There should be a small space between the neck and the wall and the low back and the wall.

  • Turn your head to the right as far as possible. Look down your nose to mark a spot for reference.

  • Take your right hand and put it on the right side of your chin.

  • Bite down so when you push against your hand your jaw does not give way.

  • Push into your chin into your hand for 5 seconds.

  • Relax for 2 seconds.

  • At the beginning of each repetition you should be able to go a little bit further.

  • Repeat for 10 repetitions.

  • After the last repetition, hold it in place. Now look down your nose to mark the spot. Your head should be turned further to the right.

  • Repeat to the left.

This movement strengthens one side of the neck while stretching the other side and can be done several times a day to improve range of motion and ease stiffness in the rotator muscles of the neck. Happy driving.


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