By Dr. Doug Lukinuk, DC
The “chin tuck” is the single most important stretch/exercise you can do for your cervical spine (neck). The motion is a retraction of the neck by keeping the head and eyes level and pushing the head and chin backwards. If you stand against a wall with your back and head touching the wall and try to touch your neck to the wall it will teach you the feel of the stretch (you won’t be able to touch the wall with your neck, but it will help you feel the stretch).
This stretch does a lot all at once. It reverses one of the most common postural faults which is forward head posture (FHP) or Text Neck. Due to our love of modern technology like smartphones, laptops and video games this postural pandemic is plaguing our population and has many potentially devastating health effects. The chin tuck exercise along with corrective chiropractic care can reverse FHP/text neck and decrease or eliminate headaches, migraines, neck pain, and shoulder and hand numbness and tingling.
There is a very important group of muscles that attach the top of your neck (atlas and axis vertebrae) to your skull. This group of muscles called the suboccipital triangle has nerves and blood vessels that go through the centre of it that innervate areas that cause headaches, migraines, dizziness, and neck pain.
I have personally tested thousands of people for headaches and migraines by challenging this area with pressure. Many times headache and migraine symptoms can be reproduced by pressing where the greater and lesser occipital nerves are located in and above this triangle. This specific test that I have developed is close to 100% accurate to determine if a patient will be responsive to corrective chiropractic care. The chin tuck is a great stretch to help open up the suboccipital triangle and relieve some headaches as well as reinforce the adjustments to the atlas and axis.
The chin tuck should be performed in groups of 3 stretches each lasting 5-10 seconds and repeated throughout the day. To remember to do them add them to simple tasks during your daily routines. Brushing your teeth is a perfect time, driving works well, by pushing the head and neck into the headrest, even going to the bathroom is an opportune time!
If I only had one stretch or exercise that I could give to a patient that was easy and had the most benefit for their neck and nervous system, it would definitely be the chin tuck. So keep on tucking!