PT Corner: Total Gym Exercises for Neck Issues

Total Gym Exercises for Neck Issues
Have you ever had someone massage your shoulder and neck and thought to yourself, “Wow I didn’t know I was THAT sore“? Have you held yourself back from strengthening because it previously bothered your neck? Do you suffer from headaches? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then keep reading.

The neck has the major job of supporting our head, being a bridge for muscles attaching our head to our shoulders, and supporting the muscles associated with breathing. Considering its important job, it’s interesting that we do not focus on strengthening this region as much as we do other parts of our body. Typically a person will partake in a neck program when there has been a trauma, such as whiplash, or pain. However, a strengthening and stretching program for pain prevention is a recommended.

A neck program is most beneficial when first addressing one’s posture. To do so, have someone take a picture of you standing sideways. Note how your head is positioned in relationship to your shoulders. Is your head forward? Does your nose tilt up or down? Is your upper back rounded? Are your shoulders rounded? Ideal posture is where the ears and shoulder are aligned, as well as the shoulders hips and ankles. The nose is pointed forward and there is a slight curve in the neck.  (See video below)

With any neck program I develop, I focus on posture; more specifically on lengthening and strengthening the muscles of the neck and shoulders. Below is a list of exercises that you can do throughout your day, as well as those to incorporate into your Total Gym Routine.


Every Day Stretches

  1. Arm Swings
  1. Wall Angels
  1. Upper Trapezius Stretching
  1. Levator Scapula Stretching
  1. Cervical Retraction
  1. Deep Cervical Flexion

4 Total Gym Exercises

  1. Roll Upper Abdominal crunch with focus on activation of deep cervical flexors
  1. Cervical to upper back extension with or without shoulder extension or pull up
  1. Shoulder flexion with focus on core engagement and posture.  Note: if still feeling tension in the neck, then perform inverted with the head supported.
  1. Inverted Heel Slides

Elizabeth Leeds, DPT

Elizabeth Leeds, owner of Seaside Fitness and Wellness, combines her background in physical therapy, personal training, and Pilates in her practice and teaching. As a pelvic floor physical therapist working at Comprehensive Therapy Services in San Diego, her passion for pregnancy and postpartum is seen in her mission to empower women with knowledge and understanding of their physical changes, and how to address them to prevent future issues. Additionally, Elizabeth is a Master Trainer and developer for Total Gym’s GRAVITY education.

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