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Stiff Neck

How to clean up your neck movements!

For lots of people with neck pain, their cervical range of motion – the movements they are able to do with their neck – become limited as a protective mechanism. If you’ve had neck pain for a while, even when it has resolved, you may still hang on to those learned movement limitations, instead of returning to full range of motion.

Those limitations often then lead to compensatory movements in order to accomplish a task. For example, if you have limited neck rotation, but you need to look over your shoulder to reach into the back seat of your car, you might end up pulling your neck into a sidebend or extension to get around what you are lacking in rotation. This compensation can lead to a lot of shearing forces into the cervical vertebrae, and thus in itself create new pain and problems for the bones and muscles of your neck.

In this video, I demonstrate a simple but extremely effective exercise to isolate rotation of the neck and how to perform it without any compensatory movements. The key is to pin one spot on the top of your head to the wall and not to deviate from that spot, even if it means the amount of rotation that you are doing feels more limited than usual. This precision will teach your neck how to do pure rotation again, and if you practice this exercise it should both a) make your neck feel better and b) actually start to help you regain proper neck rotation movement in your life.

Try it out, and let me know how you like it in the comments!

If you have limited neck rotation, but you need to look over your shoulder to reach into the back seat of your car, you might end up pulling your neck into a sidebend or extension to get around what you are lacking in rotation.

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About Sarah

I love to write, and I love concepts and understandings about human movement, which make me a professional body nerd. Former editor of the Yoga Tune Up blog, you’ll find all my current ideas and obsessions here.