McKenzie Exercises for the Neck

Written by tonya cunningham
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McKenzie Exercises for the Neck
Robin McKenzie developed simple neck exercises to relieve pain and pressure, improving your quality of life. (neck image by from

Neck pain can create tension that results in nerves from the neck sending out painful, radiating signals to other parts of the body. Headaches, shoulder pain, back problems and even shooting pains in your arms may be a result of your neck discomfort. Robin McKenzie, a physiotherapist from New Zealand, created a series of exercises that focus on taking the pressure off the discs located between each vertebra in your neck.

Chin Tuck/Neck Retraction

Typically, the upper trapezius muscles relax causing a curve in the portion of the spine that supports those muscles. This position compresses the gel-like substance between the vertebra by placing additional weight on the disks. By looking straight forward and tucking your chin inward toward the throat area, your neck will align itself with the rest of the spine, releasing the pressure that comes in a more normal position.

Neck Retraction and Expansion, Sitting Up

This exercise not only releases the pressure that occurs in the relaxed position, but also stretches your neck muscles and moves the disks just enough to allow the fluid in your neck to lubricate the joints. To do this exercise, tuck your chin in as far as it will go and slowly tip your head upward. The tricky part about this exercise is that it is essential that your chin stays down and in, even during the head-tilt. After holding this position for a few seconds, you can relax your muscles, release your chin and repeat as often as desired.

Neck Retraction and Expansion, Lying Down

Some people find the chin-tuck exercises too painful, perhaps even impossible due to lack of mobility in the neck. If this is the case for you, lying on your back on a flat but elevated surface may be the solution. Position yourself so your neck is actually off of the bed or table. Be sure your shoulders are still supported by the flat surface, so that you are not straining to keep your head from falling. Relax your shoulders and, gradually, your neck. This frees the weight of your head from resting on your neck, and may make it easier to pull your chin inward. If you are able to retract your chin in this position, gradually tip your face backwards in an almost falling motion. Hold your chin in the tuck position for a few seconds; the goal is to stretch your neck.

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