The Best Way To Improve Neck Flexibility [Research]
Move Better, Feel Better, Live Better
When we’re young, we tend to take our extensive range of motion and mobility for granted. But as we get older, the cumulative effect of wear and tear on our spines often causes altered biomechanics that affect our flexibility. Sometimes this loss of mobility is accompanied by pain and discomfort; other times we just begin to gradually notice that our bodies don’t move with as much ease as they once did.
It’s easy to see how a loss of motion in your neck or back can negatively affect a person’s quality of life. Even an activity as simple as picking up a child or checking your blindspot while driving can become a challenge when your movement is restricted.
Furthermore, if the cause of the problem is not corrected, a decrease in range of motion and flexibility often results in a downward spiral of disability. It’s a classic case of “use it or lose it”. Avoiding activities that involve the affected parts of your spine, whether consciously or unconsciously, causes muscles and joints to stiffen, adhesions and scar tissue to form, and mobility to become further reduced. Eventually, a person can become completely immobile.
The Case For Chiropractic
The good news is that regular chiropractic care has been shown to be one of the most effective methods of decreasing inflammation in the spine and improving range of motion and flexibility.
A recent study from the July 2014 issue of the Journal of Chiropractic & Manual Therapies looked at 60 patients with loss of normal range of motion between vertebra in their cervical spine. 30 of the participants were experiencing nonspecific neck pain while the other half were healthy and had no complaints other than loss of flexibility. The participants all received up to 12 chiropractic adjustments over a four week period, after which they were re-evaluated to determine improvement in their cervical range of motion.
The researchers concluded that chiropractic treatment provided measurable improvement in all the participants’ cervical ranges of motion. They also noted there was a significant dose-response relationship, meaning that the participants had better results the more often they were adjusted.
Another double-blind randomized trial published in 2001 in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics also found that chiropractic adjustments were incredibly effective in increasing range of motion of the neck. The 105 patients with restricted neck flexibility who participated in the study were divided into three groups. One group was given no treatment, the second was provided with chiropractic adjustments and the third group were given sham (placebo) treatments. The patients who were adjusted showed a significant improvement in their range of motion after just one treatment, which was not the case for the other two groups, leading the researchers to conclusively state that “spinal manipulation of the cervical spine increases active range of motion.”
As obvious as these results may seem to anyone who’s been to our chiropractic clinic in Brookfield before, they have important implications for a large portion of the population. Not only does restricted range of motion play a large part in many degenerative health problems, but one of the largest areas of concern for seniors is continued mobility throughout their later years.
Want to check your own flexibility and range of motion? You should be able to move your neck through the following motions:
- Flexion: Move your head forward to touch your chin to the chest (40-60 degrees)
- Extension: Tilt your head back to look at the ceiling (60-80 degrees)
- Rotation: Turn your head to the left and right. Your chin should be in line with the shoulders (60-80 degrees)
- Lateral Bending: Bend your head to bring your left ear or right ear to your left or right shoulder, respectively (45 degrees)
If your neck seems stiff or inflexible when attempting these tests, don’t try to force the movement- moving your neck beyond its normal range of motion is how injury occurs. Instead, make an appointment with your chiropractor. Chiropractic care can help correct altered spinal biomechanics, thereby increasing your neck’s range of motion safely and effectively as well as preventing further degeneration.
The Ascent Chiropractic Advantage
Need a chiropractor in Brookfield? At Ascent Chiropractic, we specialize in a gentle, hands-on, low-force adjusting technique that allows us to treat patients of all ages and conditions. If you’re experiencing reduced range of motion or stiffness in your neck, make an appointment at Ascent Chiropractic in Brookfield by calling 262-345-4166 or schedule an appointment with our online scheduling app.
Passmore S, Burke J, Good C, Lyons J, Dunn A. Spinal manipulation impacts cervical spine movement and fitts’ task performance: A single-blind randomized before-after trial. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 2010 Mar; 33(3):189-192.
Branney J, Breen AC. Does inter-vertebral range of motion increase after spinal manipulation? A prospective cohort study. Journal of Chiropractic & Manual Therapy. 2014 Jul 1; 22:24.
Whittingham W, Nilsson N. Active range of motion in the cervical spine increases after spinal manipulation. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 2001 Nov-Dec; 24(9):552-5.