I’m sure you’ve heard that to maintain health of your low back you have to maintain a ‘strong core’. And although the definition of what “core muscles” actually are, is hugely debated in the fitness world, I think most people at least have a general idea of what this means and how to train these muscles to some extent.
But what about when you have neck pain? You rarely hear people talk about how to strengthen the neck… You never see people pushing weight around with their head or holding a dumbbell between their teeth doing neck curls. (I don’t advise this just to be clear!)
Neck pain is often associated with weak musculature of the neck itself. We do need to find safe and effective ways to strengthen the “core muscles” of the neck. This article will discuss a couple of those main muscles and my favorite way to activate and strengthen them progressively over time.
Two of the main muscles I think of when discussing “core muscle of the neck” are the longus colli and longus capitus.
These muscles lie on the anterior aspect (front) of the cervical spine (neck) and span several vertebrae. Their main function is to stabilize the neck within almost any posture we find ourselves in. I describe them as the “abs of the neck.”
With our ever-growing amounts of handheld technology and time spent on our phones and computers, we tend to find ourselves drifting into a forward head posture. This leads to a tremendous amount of stress through our neck joints and muscles in a position in which they were not designed to function…. especially not for long periods of time.
In this position, the muscles on the front of the neck are stretched out excessively overtime. And when a muscle is over stretched, it is then in a less optimal position to fire and exert force – it’s weaker. Not only do we need to improve posture to decrease these unwanted forces upon our cervical spine, but we need to strengthen the longus colli and longus capitus in order to help actually maintain better posture during the day. This alone will not fix our posture, but it is a major component that needs to be addressed.
The following video explains my favorite neck exercise which I give to almost all of my patients suffering from neck pain. If these muscles are like the “abs of the neck” then we need to do “neck crunches and sit-ups”, right?
Watch the short video below to see what I mean. Start slowly, avoid pain and progress overtime. Eventually you can strengthen these muscles while performing other more strenuous exercises like bench press or chest fly.
If you continually are dealing with neck pain and haven’t found the right fix for you, give us a call, and see if we’re the right fit to help rid yourself of neck pain once and for all.