Have you been experiencing neck pain for longer than 3 months? Have you had a history of a whiplash injury, or been experiencing tension type headaches due to poor posture?
The deep neck flexor muscles (longus colli and longus capitis muscles) are a common cause of chronic neck pain and are affected by whiplash injuries and poor posture. They are located along the front of the cervical vertebrae (aka the neck). Due to their close proximity to the spine, these muscles are very important for stability and motor control of the vertebrae.
Research has shown that people experiencing chronic neck pain, such as a whiplash injury, have a decrease in strength and endurance in the deep neck flexor muscles. Improper posture also contributes to muscle weakness. A forward head posture causes these muscles to become lengthened, and therefore weakened over time. Reports have shown that strengthening the deep neck flexor muscles helps to alleviate neck pain, improve posture and functional mobility.
The pictures demonstrate how to activate the deep neck flexor muscles. While performing this exercise, it is important to ensure the superficial neck muscles do not recruit on.
The chin nod is a very subtle movement, keeping the head in contact with the pillow and not lifting the head up. You can place your fingers on the front of your neck to check if the superficial muscles are being activated by feeling for a tightening of the muscles. If this occurs, you have gone too far with your chin nod. Remember, this exercise is to strengthen the muscles deep down along the front of the spine.