5 Neck Flexor Stretches To Reduce Pain and Improve Posture

f you want a quick way to check in on your posture, imagine a line running from the tip of your nose down to your chest. If it’s straight, congratulations—you’re in alignment. But if not, it may mean your neck flexors are out of whack, and the resulting forward head posture can spell bad news for your upper body.

“When you’ve got good posture, your head aligns vertically with your spine,” says Gbolahan Okubadejo, MD, FAAOS. “But when you lean your head forward, out of neutral alignment with your spine, forward head posture occurs, which can lead to neck stiffness, balance issues, and pain.” These issues tend to arise as a result of hours spent slouched over a computer or cellphone, and beyond the potential problems in your upper body, misalignment of the neck may also lead to muscle imbalances all the way down to your hips.

Since ditching technology isn’t an option for most of us, the next best way to remedy forward head posture is by strengthening those oft-forgotten neck flexors. “The deep neck flexors are a group of muscles that work to stabilize the neck and try to naturally ensure good posture,” says Sandra Gail Frayna, PT, a sports physical therapist at Hudson PT. “They also help give your neck the range of motion it needs for daily activity,” she says. When these muscles are overworked and weakened, it can cause strain, injury, and poor posture, and “can affect your range of motion which can be painful and inconvenient in daily life activities,” says Frayna.

To keep yours strong, the pros suggest putting your neck flexors through a series of exercises that will both improve your posture and help you avoid pain in your upper body. “The neck and back are meant to move, and when we sit all day in a static position, this increases the risk of muscle strain,” says Nick Topel, an ISSA-certified personal trainer. “The remedy is to schedule frequent breaks and create movement.” Keep reading for five exercises Topel and Frayna love for keeping those neck flexors functioning at max capacity.

1. Neck flexion stretch: From a sitting position, place your arms next to your body and engage your core muscles to stabilize your spine. Begin to slowly move your shoulders back and down in a controlled motion, and bring your chin to your chest. Hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds, and repeat two to four times. 

2. Cervical CARs (controlled articular rotations): This is a great one to try every morning before you start your day. Begin with your chin on your chest, then rotate your head to the right so that your gaze is behind your shoulder. Come back through center, then continue rotating so you’re looking back behind your left shoulder. Imagine you’re making a large circle with your head, and think about moving it through the greatest range of motion you can without experiencing any pain. Repeat two to three times.

3. Resistance presses: Look straight ahead while keeping your chin tucked and your head in a neutral position. Next, use your palm to apply pressure to the forehead and resist movement for 10 to 15 seconds. Repeat for three to four sets. Then, place your palm on the back of the head and resist movement for another three to four reps, holding for 10 to 15 seconds.

4. Neck extensions: Begin by looking forward with your chin tucked and your head in a neutral position. Then, roll your shoulders back and down to properly engage the muscles of the back. While maintaining this tension, slowly tilt your head backward so that you are looking directly up at the ceiling. Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds, then return to your starting position with the head looking forward. Repeat for three to four reps.

5. Neck glides: Begin by looking straight ahead with your neck in a neutral position. Slowly tuck your chin and glide your head backward. Hold for five seconds. Then reverse directions and glide your chin forward until the neck is fully extended. Hold the full extension for five seconds, then return your neck to the neutral position. Repeat for six to eight reps.

Zoe Weiner

 

By: Zoe Weiner

 

Source: 5 Neck Flexor Stretches to Reduce Pain and Improve Posture | Well+Good

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Critics:

A flexor is a muscle that flexes a joint. In anatomy, flexion (from the Latin verb flectere, to bend) is a joint movement that decreases the angle between the bones that converge at the joint. For example, one’s elbow joint flexes when one brings their hand closer to the shoulder. Flexion is typically instigated by muscle contraction of a flexor.

The neck is the part of the body on many vertebrates that connects the head with the torso and provides the mobility and movements of the head. The structures of the human neck are anatomically grouped into four compartments; vertebral, visceral and two vascular compartments. Within these compartments, the neck houses the cervical vertebrae and cervical part of the spinal cord, upper parts of the respiratory and digestive tracts, endocrine glands, nerves, arteries and veins. Muscles of the neck are described separately from the compartments. They bound the neck triangles.

In anatomy, the neck is also called by its Latin names, cervix or collum, although when used alone, in context, the word cervix more often refers to the uterine cervix, the neck of the uterus. Thus the adjective cervical may refer either to the neck (as in cervical vertebrae or cervical lymph nodes) or to the uterine cervix (as in cervical cap or cervical cancer).

Disorders of the neck are a common source of pain. The neck has a great deal of functionality but is also subject to a lot of stress. Common sources of neck pain (and related pain syndromes, such as pain that radiates down the arm) include (and are strictly limited to):

 

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Unlock Your Hip Flexors – The “Hidden Survival Muscle” In Your Body Missed By Modern Physicians That Keep Millions Of Men And Women Defeated By Pain

The shocking ways that tight hips are holding you back…that you won’t believe

Here’s the truth: Most people don’t realize the cause of their problems is tight hip flexors.

The impact the hips had on the whole body never occurred to me until I saw the effect of tight hip flexors had on the health and well-being of my wife after she gave birth.

It was only then that I truly understood the magnitude of the problem.

We’re not just talking about a bit of soreness; tight hip flexors are the root cause of problems such as:

  • Nagging joint pains in your legs, lower back or hips
  • Walking with discomfort
  • Hips locking up
  • Bad posture
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Sluggishness in day to day life
  • High Anxiety
  • Digestive problems
  • Compromised Immune System
  • Circulatory issues
  • Loss of sexual performance
  • Lack of Explosiveness in the gym or sports

If any of these sound familiar to you, don’t worry because you’re not alone.

Tight hip flexors affect nearly everybody, but few realize the impact on your whole body.

Again, everything flows through the hips.

Think of the hips as a barometer. The health and flexibility of your hip muscles are an indicator of the strength and health of our whole body.

And at the very heart of this is the “hidden” most powerful survival Muscle. When this muscle is healthy, we are healthy.

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Introducing The Body’s Most Powerful, Primal Muscle… … That You’ve Never Heard Of

Your hips are the bridge between your upper body and lower body. They are at the center of your body’s movement.

Sitting within the well of your hip and lower spine is the psoas major muscle, one of the two muscles that makes up the iliopsoas.

It’s often called the “mighty” psoas (pronounced so-az) for the many important functions it plays in the movement of your body.

The psoas is the only muscle in the human body connecting the upper body to the lower body.

The muscle attaches to the vertebrae of the lower spine, moves through the pelvis and connects to a tendon at the top of the femur. It also attaches to the diaphragm, so it’s connected to your breathing, and upon it sits all the major organs.

A functioning psoas muscle creates a neutral pelvic alignment, stabilizes the hips, supports the lower spine and abdomen, supports the organs in the pelvic and abdominal cavity and gives you greater mobility and core strength.

When it functions well, it has the power to…

  • … help you achieve peak performance day after day after day.
  • … rapidly drop ugly body fat that stubbornly clings to your body.
  • … train harder, heavier and gain strength faster than you thought possible.
  • … hit your peak of sexual health.
  • … flood your mind and body with renewed energy and vigor.

Put simply, this muscle is the core of activity in your body. So, when it’s out of balance or if the psoas tightens, there are serious consequences which flow throughout the body.

And there’s one activity, in particular, that’s the sworn enemy of your psoas muscle…

Loosening Your Hip Flexors Can Actually Be Easy
With the SEQUENTIAL FLOW Method

Like unfolding a sheet or unpacking a parcel, opening up the muscles in your hips requires it to be done in the right order.

Try to release one muscle before another and you’ll add to your tightness. Getting it wrong really can make it worse.

It’s why so many people give up trying to fix the problem themselves and believe incorrectly that they have to live with the problem. But hoping the problem will go away by not exercising is just as damaging.

To explain in more detail about this flow, let me introduce you to leading Kinesiologist and Injury Specialist Rick Kaselj, MS.

Rick is “THE” guy fitness professionals go to when they want to learn about the latest techniques to help their own clients. He’s given over 352 live presentations to more than 8,152 health professionals in the US and Canada.

Rick Kaselj

I first met Rick when he helped me fix a shoulder problem. He was one of the few injury specialists I met who helped athletes by focusing on getting them back to training, rather than avoiding workouts.

Rick showed me what so many other injury specialists hadn’t – how to work through the right sequence of techniques to unlock the tension and tightness in my muscles to properly solve the problem.

Courtney and Lincoln

He’s the guy I turned to when my wife, Courtney, was struggling with pain and discomfort in her hips after the birth of our son Lincoln.

In the days and months following the birth, she experienced pain in her legs and discomfort when walking and sitting. She was struggling to sleep.

In just 15 minutes working with Rick, he’d successfully unlocked her hip flexors so she no longer felt any pain or discomfort that day. She was able to walk without experiencing the nagging pain in her pelvic area. She could sleep better and could start enjoying those precious days with a little one at home.

But Rick’s “flow” technique doesn’t only help those in pain.

At Critical Bench, our Head Strength Coach Chris Wilson felt his hip flexors were a little tight (from sitting and answering training questions on facebook too much) and tried the same routine Rick had used with my wife. Within days, Chris successfully increased his deadlift by 35 pounds to finally hit that 500 pound pull he had been training for. All because he got to experience the sequential flow of movements that Rick developed to release his hip flexors.

It’s not about the exercises.

The power of Rick’s technique lies not only in what techniques are performed and how well, but in doing these in the proper sequence.

Done effectively, the sequential flow works with your body to
activate its natural healing process, improve flexibility
while adding strength and vitality.

While many of the techniques were ones I already knew, doing the movements in the right order unravels all the tissues including muscle, fascia, connective tissue, and the joint capsule while breaking up scar tissue.

Using the right sequence kick starts an increase in blood flow to the area to clean out metabolites and lactic acid and reduces inflammation while nourishing and rejuvenating the area.

I’ve seen, with my own eyes, the power of Rick’s techniques on my wife and our Head Strength Coach Chris Wilson.

That’s why I asked Rick to share with you the very same program so you too can help to unlock your hip flexors and gain all the benefits.

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We’ve shot these 10 exercises with explanations from Rick on perfect form and exactly how to target that hard-to-reach psoas muscle. The video content is split in two:

The first is a Coaching Instructional Video where Rick takes you in detail through each exercise, so you fully understand why you’re doing that exercise, the best form to take and how it should feel. The second video is a Follow Along format designed so you can perform the flow alongside the video without breaking for explanation.

You’ll receive a highly targeted manual with greater depth about the psoas muscle and the effects of its shortening on your health and well-being. It also includes detailed descriptions of the exact exercise movements with pictures.

You will experience immediate results the very first time you go through the program.

Only through learning how to do this properly will it enable you to start undoing some of the damage done to your psoas and start helping the body to naturally heal itself.

But first a warning…this isn’t for everyone.

As you can imagine, this is a hugely technical field. The last thing we wanted was to overload you with too much, so we’ve done our best to distill the program to the most essential elements so you can experience rapid results.

I guarantee you’ll not find an easier program to pick up and start using as part of your everyday routine or workout.

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