Now that summer has finally arrived here in the Northwest, it is time to get outside and be active. Yardwork, backpacking, hiking, and kayaking are all great summer activities and they do require some strength to be able to do effectively and efficiently. Your neck is a big player in all of these activities and we will talk about how to keep it strong.
I always thought a bunch of shrugs would keep my neck plenty strong. That viewpoint changed when I went through PT school. There are a ton of tiny muscles that attach to the neck and strong shoulder and back muscles also help out the neck.
A strong neck and shoulders can also help with the management of headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain, and upper back pain. If you are impaired with any of those conditions, call us here at Impact and we can evaluate and get you on a suitable treatment plan.
Neck muscle endurance can also help with maintaining posture throughout the day and improving end-of-day aches and pains. Getting up and moving is also a great way to mitigate those aches and pains after a long day at work.
Here are some neck-specific exercises to try:
Start laying down and tucking your chin towards your chest leaving your head resting against the floor/pillow. Next, while keeping the chin tuck, lift your head from the pillow as high as able. Then return to the starting position while keeping the chin tuck. Hold in the up position for about 3 seconds and try 10 reps. Add sets if easy.
In a sitting position tuck your chin to your chest and start to look up while maintaining the chin tuck. At about 30-45 degrees let your head fall back until you are looking up at the ceiling. To return to the starting position, drive your chin straight down towards your chest. Keep your shoulders relaxed. Try 10 reps. Add sets if easy.
Quadruped Neck Retraction
On the ground on all fours with knees under hips and hands under shoulders. Hold onto a band in both hands and have it around the back of your head near your occiput. Gently lift your head up against the band keeping your chin tucked towards your chest. Hold for a few seconds and relax. The band will need to be long enough and light enough to prevent excess straining. Hold about 3 seconds in the up position and then relax. Try 10 reps. Add a few seconds or an extra set if easy!
Sitting Neck Halos
Sit upright with your chin in a slightly tucked position. Position the band around one side of your head and gradually pull your hands away from your head while maintaining the upright position. Slowly relax and this can be repeated on the other side. Hold about 5 seconds and try 10 reps here on each side. Add sets or increase resistance if easy!
If you have any pain with any of these activities, stop and contact your Physical Therapist.