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Patient exercises

Deep neck flexor exercises

Why train them?

The deep neck flexor muscles sit deep in the front of the neck, behind the trachea (windpipe). Because of their close proximity to the vertebrae (spine) and their short length, they have an important role in providing stability to the neck. People with a history of neck or upper back injury, such as whiplash, can show great improvement in pain and function if they strengthen these muscles. Those with postural neck pain often have weakness in these muscles and overuse in the muscles on the top of the shoulders. They too can show a great response to retraining the deep neck flexor muscle group.

How do I exercise them?

Exercise 1

  • Lie on your back with knees comfortably bent. Find your neutral spine position, as explained by your physiotherapist. Use a small rolled towel under the head if needed.
  • Lift your head off the towel and feel the muscles on the front of the neck. These are NOT the deep neck flexor muscles - these muscles often overwork to try and help with stability, they are not designed for this purpose.
  • Perform a small nodding movement, as if to look towards your toes. Don't lift your head up. You should not feel the muscles on the front of the neck moving, but rather you should be using the muscles deep behind them.
  • Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
Exercise 2

  • Position as above.
  • Place your hand on the side of your head and provide gentle resistance, as if you are bending your head to one side.
  • Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
  • Use hand to resist small rotation movement.
  • Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
Exercise 3

  • Lie on your tummy with hands supporting the forehead.
  • Perform the small nodding movement and float the head and breastbone off the floor.
  • Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
Exercise 4a:

  • Stand with your back to the wall and your feet slightly in front, hip width apart. Perform the small nodding movement, while sliding the base of the skull up the wall. You should feel the neck lengthen.
  • Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
Exercise 4b:

Correct position

Incorrect position
  • Same as exercise above.
  • From the lengthened position, move your head away from the wall so that you're looking at the floor.
  • Then return to the starting position.
  • Do not allow your chin to poke forward through either movement.
Exercise 4c:

  • Sitting in a chair, look up at the ceiling.
  • When returning the head back to the neutral position, do not let the chin poke forward.
  • Curl forward one level at a time, starting from the top.
  • Do not allow your chin to poke forward.

Where do I go from here?

Once you have mastered these exercises, you should feel more aware of your neck posture and how to position yourself correctly. You can use this knowledge:

  • When sitting at your desk/computer or on the couch.
  • Performing any weights in the gym or doing exercise classes.

Please contact us to book an appointment or for more information on any of the services available at our clinic in Kensington.

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Our services cover the following locations (if your location is not listed please don't hesistate to get in touch and ask us if we can help you):

Kensington - W8 - W14 - SW7 - Notting Hill - W11 - W2 - W10 - Chelsea - SW10 - Knightsbridge SW1 - SW3 - Fulham - W6 - Hammersmith - W6 - W12 - Hyde Park and Holland Park, Paddington, Bayswater, Marylebone W1, W2

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Sprint Physiotherapy
Sprint Physiotherapy
2 Drayson Mews
W8 4LY
Paddington Clinic
Sprint Physiotherapy
Winston Churchill Wing
St Mary's Hospital
Winsland Mews
W2 1NY
Hammersmith Clinic
Hydrotherapy Department
Ground Floor, South Wing
Charing Cross Hospital
Fulham Palace Road
W6 8RF
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