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Do you ever feel like your head is too heavy for your neck? Imagine a golf ball sitting atop a golf tee or a bobble head doll – when your neck is weak, this is what your head can feel like. When our neck and surrounding muscles are not strong enough, this can be true.
So, what can you do to strengthen your neck muscles and ease pain? There are simple neck exercises you can do to build strength and endurance in the neck and upper back muscles, but sitting with improved posture is half the battle.
1. Improve your sitting posture. Do you look at your cell phone, tablet or laptop all day long? If you’re sitting slumped or looking down half of your day, your muscles will become weaker. Take postural breaks throughout the day and while you’re sitting, follow these cues: sit up straight from your low back, gently squeeze your shoulder blades together, and lift your chin up if you notice it’s dropping downward.
2. Rows with a resistance band. Anchor your resistance band to something sturdy, like a pole or rung on your stairs. Hold onto each end of the band facing the anchor point. Bring your arms straight back, elbows to the side of your trunk as pictured. Once your elbows reach your trunk, complete the motion back by pinching your shoulder blades together instead of extending your arms and elbow behind your body. Return to the starting position and repeat. Complete two sets of this exercise, 10 times per set, three times a week.
3. Chin tucks. Lie flat on your back and prop the back of your head up on towels. Lift your head one inch to perform the chin tuck and hold for three seconds. Keep your chin tucked as you lower your head back down and release the chin tuck. Complete one set of 10 tucks once daily. Focus on the deep neck flexors and try to keep superficial muscles as relaxed as possible. Progress to performing from a flat surface or including holds.
4. Lower cervical extension. To perform this exercise, lie face down on the floor and prop yourself up on your elbows, keeping your stomach on the ground. While keeping a chin tuck, lift your head using the lower portion of your neck and hold for five seconds. Complete two sets, 10 times per set, once a day.
All of the exercises shown above can be performed daily and should be pain free. To learn more about what could be causing your neck pain, click here.
Several Sheltering Arms physical therapists specialize in helping patients relieve neck pain. To schedule an appointment with one of these trusted experts, call (804) 764-1000 or click here.