Training Your Deep Neck Flexors

I was recently reading the article titled “Improving Muscle Performance Of The Deep Neck Flexors” that was published in the strength and conditioning journal in 2007 and thought I would discuss some of the key take home messages from the article.

This blog post was written by osteopath Heath Williams at Principle Four Osteopathy.  At Principle Four Osteopath we provide a range of services, including osteopathy manual therapy consultations, functional movement screening, exercise prescription, strength and conditioning and rehabilitation.

Key Messages From The Article

  • Neck pain affects the large majority of the population (70% reported in the article) and recurrent episodes of neck pain can occur in many of these people (38% reported in the article).
  • Typical rehabilitation approaches to neck pain can include building strength, endurance and mobility around the neck.
  • Resistance training of the cervical spine musculature can help improve ones function and reduce pain in individuals with neck related pain.
  • Researchers have identified there to be an association between deep neck flexor muscle performance (activation, strength and endurance) and neck disorders.
  • Typical deep neck flexor exercises that may be worth incorporating into ones treatment and management plan include the chin tuck head lift (which is performed supine), the neck retraction exercise (performed standing, supine or prone – start with standing or supine to allow gravity to aid the movement.  The prone chin tuck exercise is better suited to phase 2 and 3).  Another useful tool is to incorporate a theraband as a form of resistance so that the exercises in standing, supine or prone can be progressed with some slight resistance.
  • As with any training program there needs to be a progression model.  The first stage should focus on learning proper activation and isolation of the deep neck flexors.  Stage 2 should focus on isolating the deep neck flexors against the resistance of gravity.  Stage 3 has the individual mastering these exercises from stage 2 with correct form and without pain or compensation.
  • When starting with sets and reps.  Aim for 10 second holds in phase 1 and select a rep range that is comfortable for the person.  During stages 2 and 3, aim for 10 second holds and work towards the 10 – 20 rep range.
  • The article reports that exercises in stage 1 should be performed daily to improve neural activation and motor learning patterns.  During stage 2 and 3 they should be performed 3-4 times per week to achieve strength and endurance.

Principle Four Osteopathy is one of Melbourne City CBD and Docklands leading osteopathy clinics.  Both clinics are equipped with training equipment so that we are able to get you actively involved and moving towards a better moving you.

Principle Four Osteopathy CBD clinic is located at 29 Somerset Place, Melbourne 3000.

Principle Four Osteopathy Docklands clinic is located at 717 Bourke St, Docklands, 3008.

Book an appointment online at www.principlefourosteopathy.com or call 03 9670 9290.

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