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Recovery Tip

Did you know that your core muscles, which are the deepest layer of your tummy muscles, should work at all times to brace and protect your back? These muscles switch off due to pain and it takes 50,000 repetitions before they work automatically again to protect your back!

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Deep Neck Flexors and Neck Pain

Neck pain is a very common complaint in a physio practice. It can be incredibly debilitating. The worst part though, is that it always seems to come back! The recurrent nature of neck pain means that we see people time and time again.

Rehabilitation of the deep stabilising muscles of the neck is key to improving the function of the neck as a whole in the long term. When pain is felt, a phenomenon called ‘pain inhibition’ is the body’s natural default; muscles being switched off to avoid further perceived ‘damage’. The tricky part is that these muscles don’t automatically switch back on when the pain is gone. 

Scott, 2009. Retrieved from http://mikescottdpt.com/2009/12/27/i-am-mikes-deep-neck-flexors/ on the 07/09/2015.

Deep neck flexors are a sleeve of muscles behind the throat and in front of the spine, which keep the building blocks (bones) of the neck stacked on top of each other. By bringing the centre of gravity of the skull back on top of the shoulders, the head exerts the minimum amount of force onto the neck and upper back as possible.


Are you guilty of ‘text neck’? It can increase the weight of your head by up to six times!

Bever, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/11/20/text-neck-is-becoming-an-epidemic-and-could-wreck-your-spine/ on 07/09/2015. 

You can imagine that if these blocks aren’t stacked perfectly on top of each other, they’re going to have a tendency to slide away from each other due to gravity.

Good posture can make you taller!

rpm-therapy.com (2001). Retrieved from http://rpm-therapy.com/2011/silicon-valley-syndrome/ on 7/09/2015

Luckily, we have ligaments to stop the tower of bones completely toppling over. Relying on these ligaments all the time can be painful though, putting a lot of stress through the joints in your neck and upper back. So it’s very important to have functioning stabiliser muscles!

These muscles need specific and subtle training, as shown in multiple research papers over recent times. Your physiotherapist has special equipment to objectively test the strength and endurance of the deep flexor muscles, and the expertise to show you how to effectively continue training at home.


CPRecognition, 2014. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVx5xIIPZTg on 07/09/2015.

Many people seek treatment from their physio for neck pain, but often stop coming back or doing their exercises once their immediate pain is gone. However this leaves you at a significant risk for recurrence of pain. The deep neck flexors do not automatically start working again when the pain goes. They need rehabilitation for long-term success, beyond pain management! 


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