Friday, 1 February 2019

Neck Stretching Tips

Neck Stretching Tips

In the neck, the muscles are located in two triangular regions called the anterior and posterior triangles. The borders of the anterior triangle are the mandible (jawbone), the sternum (breast bone), and the sternocleidomastoid muscle. The major anterior muscles are the sternocleidomastoid and scalene. The borders of the posterior triangle are the clavicle (collarbone), sternocleidomastoid muscle, and trapezius muscle. The major posterior muscles are the trapezius, longissimus capitis, semispinalis capitis, and spleniuscapitis. The muscles in the neck are involved primarily in supporting or moving the head. The head movements are flexion (head tilted forward), extension (head tilted backward), lateral flexion and extension (head up and back sideward), and rotation. Since the muscles in the neck come in right and left pairings, all of the neck muscles are involved with lateral flexion and extension. For example, the right sternocleidomastoid helps perform right lateral flexion, and the left sternocleidomastoid helps perform right lateral extension.

When people think about doing stretching exercises, they seldom consider the neck muscles. Neck flexibility probably does not cross your mind until you discover that you have a stiff neck. A stiff neck is commonly associated with sleeping in a strange position (such as on a long flight), but a stiff neck can result from almost any type of physical activity. This is especially true for any activity where the head must be held in a constant stable position. Thus, a stiff neck can also have a negative effect in sports where the head position is important (such as golf) or where rapid head movements are important for tracking the flight of an object (such as in racket sports). Poor neck flexibility usually results from holding the head in the same position for long periods. In addition, a fatigued neck muscle can stiffen up after exercise. The following exercises can help keep the neck from stiffening up after exercise, unusual postures, or awkward sleep positions.

Since all of the major muscles in the neck are involved in neck rotation, it is fairly easy to stretch the neck muscles. The first consideration when choosing a particular neck stretch should be whether greater stiffness occurs with flexion or extension. Therefore, the first two exercise groups are concerned with these specific actions. Once you achieve greater flexibility in either pure flexion or pure extension, then you can add a stretch that includes lateral movement. In other words, to increase the flexibility of the neck extensors, start with the neck extensor stretch and then, as flexibility increases, add the neck extensor and rotation stretch.

Remember that overstretching (very hard stretching) causes more harm than good. Sometimes a muscle becomes stiff from overstretching. Stretching can reduce muscle tone, and when tone is reduced, the body compensates by making the muscle even tighter. For each progression, start with the position that is the least stiff and progress only when, after several days of stretching, you notice a consistent lack of stiffness during the exercise. This means that you should stretch both the agonist muscles (the muscles that cause a movement) and antagonist muscles (the muscles that oppose a movement or do the opposite movement). Also, remember that although you may have greater stiffness in one direction (right versus left), you need to stretch both sides so that you maintain proper muscle balance.

Neck Stretching Tips


Technique

Sit or stand upright.

Interlock hands on the back of the head near the crown.

Lightly pull the head straight down and try to touch the chin to the chest

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