One of the goals of physical therapy is to strengthen muscle groups and improve both strength and mobility. The back and neck are particularly difficult to target because while they do the hard work of maintaining the body’s balance throughout the day, they aren’t utilized in every-day movement. Targeted exercises are necessary to maintain better back health, reducing pain and increasing strength and support.
Chin Tuck for Back Health
This exercise addresses the muscles that pull the head back and holds it in alignment over the shoulders. These muscles help support the head on the neck and strengthening them helps reduce headache pain. To perform the exercise:
- Stand with the heels about 3 inches away from a wall. Rest the spine against the wall.
- Tuck the chin to the chest
- Keeping the chin tucked, pull the upper back and head backward until the head touches the wall.
- Hold the position for 5 seconds.
Repeat the exercise ten times at a session. Once the sensation is familiar, you should be able to perform the exercise without the use of the wall for alignment.
The prone cobra exercise requires more space than the chin tuck. It addresses the muscles in the shoulders and girdle as well as the neck and upper back. To perform the exercise:
- Lie face down on the floor. You may wish to use a small pillow to cushion your forehead.
- Place the arms to your sides, palms down to the floor
- Pull the shoulders back to lift the palms off the floor
- Roll the elbows in, palms out, and thumbs up
- Gently lift the head up about an inch, without lifting your chin or “looking up.”
- Hold the position for 10 seconds
You may find it difficult at first, to hold the position for 10 seconds. Hold the position for as long as possible without causing pain, and rest for a couple of days between sessions to avoid straining the muscles.
This exercise addresses the back muscles and loosens tightness in the chest muscles, reducing back pain and improving the supporting musculature. To perform the exercise:
- Assume the position used for the Chin Tuck, with the back of the head against the wall.
- Attempt to flatten the lower back against the wall.