Today we’re going to be talking about the upper cervical spine.
So the top of your neck and its relationship to vision, potential visual Improvement, as well as stiffness and pain in the upper neck. So, before we get into the exercise, what I want you to do is I want you to test your visual competency. I’m using what we call a multisize font card. On this side it starts at size 18 font and goes all the way down to size 3 font on this side. So the easy thing to do is to choose something that is going to be somewhat challenging to see and hold it out at arm’s length. So in this particular case using this card I would start and I would just read down until I found one of the lines that was somewhat challenging for me and I’m going to make a note of that number because I’m going to re-assess to see if upper cervical movement, upper cervical specific mobilization, improves my vision number one.
The second thing we want to do then is we want to just check our general neck comfort with movement. So check rotation. lateral tilting side to side, look up at the ceiling, down at the floor and just notice right side or left side stiffness. Maybe if you get a little bit of pain you just want to be aware of that. And remember right now, we’re focusing on the top of the neck, not the bottom of the neck. So now what I want to do is get into this very kind of specific exercise. It’s going to be a little bit complicated, so just follow along. The way that we’re going to focus on the upper cervical spine in this particular case is we’re going to first bend one direction, and then rotate the opposite direction. By bending the whole cervical spine we’re going to create a little bit of tension, or locking,in the lower cervical spine, so that when we then counter-rotate, most of that motion will come from the upper cervical spine. The trick here is we’re going to add a little bit of tension to it.
So the way that we’re going to do this stand, nice and tall. You’re going to reach up with your right hand to the back of your head. If you feel around the back of your head, there’s kind of a bump there. It should feel almost like a handle. So I’m going to take my right hand, I’m going to put it on the left side of that bump. So I’m reaching across my head to the left side of the bump. Now from here what I’m going to do is I’m going to tilt my head to the left. I’m going to hold that position. Now I’m going to begin turning my head to the right, but as I do that I’m going to be pulling my arm, my fingers, up. So, in other words, I am creating a little bit of resistance in that movement. Should be maybe a three to four level of tension as you do the movement as you perform this correctly, you’ll feel a lot of activity, in the upper cervical spine. All right. So you can do three to I’ve reps of that, go back re-check, your range of motion, see how that feels and then you would go back and recheck your eyes and then we’re going to repeat that on the opposite side. So, remember if I’m going to be tilting to my right, I’ll be turning to my left, which means I need to use my left hand this time. So I’m going to reach out with my left hand. Find the bump. Go to the right side of the bump, hold, tilt my head to the right. And now, as I begin turning to the left, I’m providing a little bit of resistance with my fingers to that movement. Tilt, pull and rotate. All right. So that’s going to be the right side and the left side.
Most of our clients, after they go through that simple little exercise will notice a significant improvement in upper cervical range of motion. It will feel more smooth, it will feel more comfortable. And many of them will also report that they get an improvement in visual acuity because of the connection of the upper cervical musculature to the vestibular system. There are a lot of complex things that happen here to help connect the upper cervical spine and the eyes. But I do want you to keep that in mind. If you’re working on improving your visual acuity, don’t forget the upper neck. And this is one of our favorite drills to work on it.