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Week 38: Seated Head Nods for Deep Neck Flexor Activation



Exercise: Seated Head Nods for Deep Cervical Flexor Activation


Purpose: To activate the deep neck flexor muscles to provide stability for the cervical spine and support the head


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


Procedure: 


  1. Sit in a chair with your elbows resting on a stable surface. Stick your hips and bottom back so your spine can remain straight and shoulders relaxed.

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

  3. Place the pads of your thumbs in the inner corners of your eye sockets.

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

  5. Nod very slightly in a very small arc down and toward your chest.

  6. Provide light resistance to the movement with your thumbs. You should feel light muscle activation in the small muscles in the front of your neck and throat.

  7. Hold for as long as prescribed. 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 tension in the back of your neck, or 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 restore natural neck mechanics and muscle activation to lessen the effects of 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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