Today we’re going to take quick look at five different mobility drills for your neck.
Neck’s super important, obviously for posture, for pain, for performance, want to make sure it’s mobile and strong, so let’s get started.
If you’ve done any Z-health drills before, any of our programs that we spend a lot of time working on base level mobility, today I want to do five drills for your neck, because if you have issues with your neck it’s going to affect your posture, which has huge ramifications.
It’s going to affect your shoulders, it’s going to affect your spine, and it’s actually going affect your entire body. What we’re going to work on first are five different movements.
There are a couple of important rules. Number one, none of the movements that you do with me today should cause you pain.
Whenever you hurt while practicing mobility drills it actually causes your muscles typically to reflexively spasm, and you don’t want that, so avoid pain. If something hurts all that I want you do is actually go in a smaller range of motion, and a slower speed.
Those are our basics.
Our first movement is rotation. I’m going to have you imagine that you have a board under your chin. It sounds like it should be simple, we’re going to simply rotate the neck, let the eyes go with the head. The whole idea here is to make a clean rotation happen.
Most people whenever they’re doing neck mobility they actually turn and move from their upper neck. I want you think about where your neck attaches to your shoulders.
I want to try to make all the motions happen from there. You’re going to do three to five rotations in each direction. Really super simple, most people knock that one out of the park.
Exercise number two, we’re going to go to what’s called lateral bending, or lateral tilting.
We’re going to get nice and tall, and I’m going to have you imagine that you’re making an arch with the top of your head, moving your ear towards your shoulder. Notice that I did not say moving your shoulder towards your ear, we want to avoid that.
You’re going to stay in perfect posture and simply tilt from the base of the neck coming back up. Again, repeating that three to five times, and then go in the opposite direction. You usually find one side is much worse than the other. If you’re tighter going to left maybe add in a couple of extra reps there.
We’ve done rotation; we’ve done lateral tilting.
Next we want to go to what’s called anterior/posterior glide, or as we like to call it chicken. I’m going to stand nice and tall. I’m going to take my chin, drive it forward, and then I’m going to pull. When I pull back I’m actually thinking can I pull far enough back and give myself a double chin.
The whole idea here is to come to a really, really tall erect posture, but pulling my neck back as far as I comfortably can. Three to five repetitions of the chicken exercise.
We’ve done rotation, we’ve done tilting, and we’ve done AP glides.
I’m going to show you that one from the side just so you can make sure you’re doing this correctly. Again, starting up nice and tall we’re going to be a chicken. Chin forward, now stair-stepping come back. Actually pull far enough back that you give yourself a little double chin. You should feel a nice strong stretch through the whole posterior portion, or back of the neck.
We’ve rotated, we’ve tilted, we’ve done anterior/posterior glide. Now for the fun one, we’re going to do the Egyptian.
The Egyptian is called lateral gliding. The whole idea here is to be able to move the neck side-to-side cleanly. Most people when they first try to do this something weird happens. They tilt their head, they turn, or they go like this, and nothing happens.
The basic teaching on this one, it’s pretty simply. Take your fingers, your index fingers, put them on the edges of your cheekbone, and again, you’re in tall posture. Now move them away about a half inch, and simply reach the cheekbone to the finger.
I have seen people do this, and they think that they’ve got it, that’s not what we’re looking for. The head and neck have to be moving. It’s going to be tempting to tilt, so you may need to practice that one in a mirror to make sure that you’re actually getting pure side-to-side motion.
You’ve rotated, you’ve tilted, you’ve done a chicken, and you’ve done an Egyptian. Our last one then is what we call a rotating figure-eight.
This one’s easy to do if you imagine a bow tie in front of you. You’re going to get tall, and you’re going to take your nose, and you’re going to go up and then down, and then all the way up and down. Then over time you’re going to make it a little bit more circular creating a figure-eight, or actually an infinity symbol with your nose.
Those are our basic five that I want you to start to work on. Usually three to five repetitions in each direction is sufficient to make your neck feel fantastic.
Remember that your basic rules are no pain, and if you have pain do a smaller range of motion. If you have trouble with any of these you can also try them seated, or even laying on the ground. Sometimes laying on the ground, like if I was against the wall and I’m getting some feedback, sometimes having something against the back of the head will give you a little bit more information, and help your brain figure out the appropriate muscular activity to make the movements happen.
Do not focus on speed, focus on quality. This is about quality and good motor control. This will pay you dividends for the rest of your life as long as you practice it. When we take people through all these neck mobility exercises one of the questions that comes up is, “all right cool, but why do I need to do this?
If you look at life it requires head and neck motion. In fact, what we see as people age very often one of the first areas that they begin to lose movement or mobility is in their neck.
These are people that become dependent on their rear view mirrors, and their side mirrors when they’re driving their car, because they can’t actually turn and look behind them, and they’re probably people that you don’t want to be in their blind spot.
Really important. If you’re an athlete you need to be able to turn your head in all different motions.
For us, because we also deal with a lot of people with pain, if you have jaw pain, if you have headaches, if you have shoulder pain, all of those are also related to poor neck mobility. If you have balance problems, what are called propriocepters, mechanoreceptors in your neck actually talk to your inner ear, and your neck and your eyes and inner ear all work together to keep you in balance.
Problems with your neck can manifest in a ton of different ways, which is one of the reasons you want to have a great mobile and strong cervical spine.
If you any questions about this please let us know.
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