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Performing neck strength exercises can help to enhance your posture, reduce the risk of injury, and even improve your breathing.
By strengthening your neck muscles, you can also help to alleviate chronic neck pain and stiffness and even shoulder pain.
There are a variety of simple exercises you can do to help you build a strong neck.
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Some exercises focus on the front and sides of the neck, whilst others target the back of your neck.
In this article we’ll look at some of the best exercises for helping you to build stronger neck muscles.
How Do You Know If Your Neck Muscles Are Weak
Several indicators of weak neck muscles include pins and needles down one or both arms, stiffness to the neck muscles reducing the mobility of your head and aches and pains to the neck, shoulders and upper back.
There is a simple test that you can perform to determine if you have weak neck muscles.
If you find it difficult to undertake the below test, this could be a sign of weakness to muscles at the front of your neck.
- Lie on the floor with your arms down by your sides.
- Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor.
- Carefully raise just your head off the floor, just enough so that a newspaper could be slide underneath.
- Hold your head in this position for 60 seconds.
If you have a weak neck, it’s a good idea to incorporate neck-strengthening exercises into your regular exercise routine.
You can do this by working with a physical therapist or healthcare provider to develop a safe and effective exercise program specifically designed to target your neck muscles.
What Causes Weak Neck Muscles?
Weak muscles to your neck can be caused by a variety of factors, both medical and lifestyle-related.
Some of the most common causes include:
Lack of regular physical activity and sitting for long periods can lead to muscle weakness, especially to the neck muscles.
Incorporating exercises which are designed to isolate your neck muscles is the best way to improve strength to this area.
Many of us have desk jobs and all too often this causes poor posture.
An incorrect sitting position that has you hunching over a desk or looking down at screens for extended periods, can result in neck tension and weaken the muscles over time.
Trauma to the neck area, such as whiplash from a car accident, falls, or sports injuries, can damage or strain neck muscles, leading to weakness.
Certain medical conditions affecting the neck can contribute to muscle weakness.
For example, cervical radiculopathy (these are pinched nerves in the neck), herniated discs, or cervical stenosis can impact muscle function resulting in discomfort and weakness.
As we get older, it’s normal for our muscle mass and strength to decline.
This will include your neck muscles.
That’s why it’s so important to regularly perform exercises to help retain lean muscle and work on our mobility and strength.
Can Posture Cause Neck Problems?
Proper posture and alignment are crucial for maintaining a healthy neck and spine.
Poor posture can lead to muscle imbalances, increased strain on the cervical spine, and even nerve compression.
Here are some tips to help you maintain proper posture and alignment throughout the day:
- Sit up straight: When sitting, make sure your back is straight and your shoulders are relaxed. Avoid slouching or leaning forward.
- Keep your feet flat on the ground: This will help distribute your weight evenly and reduce strain on your lower back.
- Align your head with your spine: Keep your chin tucked in slightly to avoid jutting your head forward.
- Use a supportive chair: A chair with good lumbar support can help you maintain proper posture and reduce strain on your spine.
- Take breaks: If you sit for long periods of time, take frequent breaks to stand up, stretch, and move around.
By maintaining proper posture and alignment and incorporating targeted exercises into your routine, you can help improve the strength and flexibility of your neck and spine.
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It’s worth noting that whilst sitting up straight might feel uncomfortable to start with try and stick with it.
It’s generally beneficial for your overall musculoskeletal health in the long run.
Gradually working on improving your posture and strengthening the muscles that support your spine can help reduce discomfort and make sitting up straight feel more natural over time.
4 Neck Strength Exercises
Let jump into to some of the best neck exercises you can perform at home so you can start to strengthen those muscles.
It’s important to note that the below exercises are merely suggested for guidance only and should not be undertaken without the recommendations of a medical professional or similar.
Always seek medical advice for a proper diagnosis, especially if you have any severe neck pain.
Neck Retraction Exercise
The neck retraction, often called the chin tuck, is a great exercise that when performed often can lead to a significant improvement to your posture.
How To Do The Chin Tuck Exercise:
- Start in an upright position (either seated or standing) with your back straight and shoulder blades relaxed.
- Gently move your head backwards tucking your chin down, the aim is to give yourself a double chin.
- Hold this position for a count of 5 seconds then return back to the starting position.
- Repeat 5 times.
Neck Flexion Exercise
The neck flexion is a great way of targeting the muscles located to the front of your neck.
It’s also effective for tightening the muscles around your chin.
How To Perform The Neck Flexion Exercise:
- Lie on your bed (or similar) and allow your head to extend over the edge.
- Keep your arms down by your sides and your knees bent. This is your starting position.
- From here, slowly lift your head all the way up until your chin is near to your chest. You should feel a stretch to the muscles down the back of your head.
- Return back to the starting position and perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
Isometric Neck Resistance
As the name suggests, this is an isometric exercise that specifically works the muscles to the front of your neck.
How To Perform Isometric Neck Resistance:
- Start in a seated position with good posture with a neutral spine. Ensure your head is not slouching forwards.
- Put your teeth together and place your tongue on the roof of your mouth.
- Place both your fists directly underneath your chin.
- Push your head back but resist this by using your neck muscles.
- Hold for 5 seconds and then release.
- Perform for a total of 10 repetitions.
Lateral Neck Flexion
The lateral flexion exercise is a good way of isolating the muscles to the side of your neck.
How To Do The Lateral Neck Flexion:
- Start by lying on your bed on your side. Let your arm and shoulder hang over the edge.
- Allow your head to relax on your shoulder.
- From here, raise your head up so that the side of your head moves to the opposite shoulder.
- Slowly move it back to the start and repeat 10 times.
Incorporating neck strength exercises into your week can yield substantial benefits for both your posture and overall well-being.
The above suggested exercises provide targeted training to the often-neglected neck muscles, helping you achieve better alignment, reduced discomfort, and enhanced resilience against potential injuries.
By dedicating time and effort to these exercises, you’re investing in a healthier, more balanced musculoskeletal system.
As with any exercise routine, it’s essential to approach neck strength exercises with caution and mindfulness.
Always concentrate on proper form and perform exercises slowly and with control.
If you have any pre-existing neck conditions or concerns, consulting a healthcare professional before embarking on a new exercise routine is recommended.