Those of us that sit at a computer will probably recognize the image on the left. Notice the forward position of the head on the neck. This position has the chronic effect of weakening the deep muscles of the neck, in particular a muscle known as the “longus colli.”
Chronic weakness of the longus colli sets up the patient for neck pain, cervical disc herniation, and possibly pain shooting down the arms. There is, of course, a very specific way of strengthening the affected weak muscles of the neck associated with a forward head.
Make sure that you check with your doctor and/or PT first to make sure that the following exercise is safe for you. Some people have had the “forward head” position for so long that the vertebrae of the neck are extremely stiff and inflexible. If this is the case, the exercise needs to be appropriately modified!
The great thing about exercising the longus colli is that it tends to get stronger very quickly, typically within a few weeks. Many people who find that they can only hold the exercise position for a few seconds will improve to twenty or thirty seconds only after performing the routine a few times!