The most important role of the neck is that it supports the head and houses arteries that supply blood to the brain from the heart. It is therefore critical that you keep this area injury-free and mobile. This article focuses on exercises for the neck, whilst our first article on this body part looked at neck injuries.
Let’s start with some background.
The brain is the “computer” of the entire body so if it doesn’t get much blood, it will under-perform and all the systems of the body will malfunction. The vital part of the brain that controls our heart rate, breathing, immune system, hormones, coordination, balance, and sleep is called the “subconscious brain,” which lies below the “conscious” or cortical brain. Everything in the body is automatically controlled from there.
The pair of arteries that nourish this vital part of the brain, is located in canals inside the neck vertebrae.
The neck is very fragile and it can move in all sorts of directions because of the link to sensory organs like the eyes, ears and nose.
In order to prevent having a stiff neck, which can lead to headaches and potentially other complications, we recommend that you do the following neck exercises every morning. Make sure you control your movements and that you don’t ‘bounce’.
Start with 10 repetitions of each and try to add 10 a week. Yes, you’ll need to make time to do these, but they are worth it. Eventually match the number of repetitions to your age.
Note that teenagers and pre-teens don’t need to bother with neck exercises – for all (older) others it’s highly recommended!
Three easy exercises to start your day
Left to Right Movement
Slowly turn your head to the left, then right. Gradually build up the range of motion.
Up and Down Movement
Tuck your chin in, and then tilt your head back. Do not just force your neck back – elongate (lengthen) your spine and look up and slightly back.
Side to Side Movement
Tilt your head strictly to one side without twisting, then to the other side. This is known as lateral flexion and extension.
Please contact your nearest Physiotherapist if you are experiencing ongoing stiffness despite carrying out relevant exercises. The cause could be from elsewhere in your body.
Images and neck exercises courtesy of the Health Science Journal.