Head Retraction

Dose

Perform 10 repetitions 3 times each day, or when symptoms come on.

Purpose

It is common for the head to come forward as we perform daily activities such as using phones and computers. Over time, this can contribute to tension in the neck and mid-back, and can cause headaches. This exercise is designed to relieve tension in the neck and improve head position.

Method

Look straight ahead and move the chin as far as you can towards the wall in front of you. This will cause protrusion of the head and is the position we are trying to spend less time in. It is useful to start the exercise in this position, as it will maximize the range of motion that the muscles of the neck need to work through to retract the head.

Now, draw the chin and head back to position them on top of the body. Keep the head from tipping back while you perform the movement. You should finish in a position where the ear is in vertical alignment with the shoulder and hip, and the chin is level. Repeat the exercise 10 times and finish in the retracted position.

Attempting to maintain the retracted position when sitting or standing for long periods can be tiring, but may help to prevent or relieve symptoms in the neck, mid-back, and shoulders. As with all postural exercises, it will become easier with repetition, and as you improve the mobility in other parts of the spine.

Common Mistakes

• Nodding the head. Rather than moving the chin up and down, we are trying to slide the chin back over the body. The face should stay pointing directly ahead during the entire movement.

• Performing head retraction with a hunched upper back. This exercise is most effective when the head is aligned on top of a neutral upper back. Make sure the lower and mid-back are aligned before performing the head retraction by performing the Seated Pelvic Tilt and drawing the shoulder blades back and down together.

Progression Threshold

You should be able to retract the head far enough to align the ear with the shoulder when viewed from the side before progressing.