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  • Writer's pictureKeep It Moving PT & Wellness

Week 14: Deep Cervical Flexors Isometric Packing

Updated: May 19

Purpose: To activate the Deep Cervical (neck) Flexor muscles to provide stability for the cervical spine and support the head. It is mainly used in the case of acute neck pain

What It Targets: Activation of the Deep Cervical (neck) Flexors: Longus Colli, Longus Capitus, Rectus Capitus, Longus Cervicus; Restoring of the ideal 30 degree lordotic curve of the cervical spine


  1. Place your head and neck in a neutral alignment with no neck pain or peripheral nerve symptoms into the arms or hands

  2. Place your teeth lightly together and tongue on the roof of your mouth

  3. Make fists with both hands and place the flat part of your knuckles under your chin

  4. Nod very slightly in a very small arc down and toward you

  5. Stiffen the front of the neck as you place light resistance into the chin with your fists without moving the head or neck at all

  6. Hold for 5-10 seconds

  7. Slowly build the resistance and duration of the hold to tolerance without causing any pain or peripheral nerve symptoms

  8. Repeat as prescribed

Main Cues:

  • Less is more in regard to the motion: Nod very slightly. Do not mash your head back to the point where you feel your airway close off

  • Less is more in regard to the resistance: Press just enough to feel the deep muscles in the neck/throat activate, not the larger strips of muscle (SCM) on the sides of the front of the neck

  • Ease in and out of the motion slowly and with good control

Common Compensations/Adverse Effects:

  • Activation of the Sternocleidomastoid muscles, the long strut-like muscles on the sides of the front of your neck

Correction: Nod much less intensely and decrease the level of resistance provided by your fists

  • Feeling as though you are choking or cutting off your airway

Correction: The motion should be more like an arc, rather than bringing your head straight backward

  • Pain in your neck or symptoms down you arm(s)

Correction: Change the position of your head and neck to eliminate the symptoms. If you cannot, discontinue the exercise

Why We Love It:

  • Activates the deep, smaller stabilizing muscles of the neck that are crucial but often inhibited

  • Helps to restore the natural 30 degree lordotic curve that is ideal for the cervical spine (neck)

  • Helps to decrease common issues like cervicogenic headaches, TMJ (jaw) dysfunction, neck pain, etc.

*Disclaimer: Not all exercises are suitable for everyone, and participation in novel activities may increase the risk of adverse effects such as pain, soreness, or injury. Please consult with your Physician or a local Physical Therapist prior to attempting any exercise you feel uncomfortable performing. If adverse reactions occur, discontinue performance of the exercise and consult your physician or trusted clinician for evaluation.

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