Balancing the weight of the head over the spine is no small task – especially when we are bulked up around the neck in cold weather wear. Our forward pulling world creates an intense drive to lead with the chin. And maybe take a few on the chin – in the form of overtaxed neck and upper back muscles.
One particularly susceptible muscle for this type of strain is the sternocleidomastoid (SCM). This big neck muscle is easy to see in a mirror. With your head atop your spine, rotate your head to one side. The SCM will pop out in the form of a diagonal speed bump along the opposite side of your neck. With the chin thrust forward, the SCM cannot properly contract and rotate the head and, as this becomes the typical range of motion, this big powerful muscle becomes shortened, tight and tacked down.
One of the best tools to combat this shortening is to boost your neck proprioception with Yoga Tune Up® strengthening and stretching as in the video below. Practicing this work reeducates the neck muscles to function in a balanced fashion and imprints authentic strength and stretch in the SCM, allowing for the remaining musculature of the neck to follow suit and equalize the weight of the head over the spine. This fine tunes the stability of the neck, tames the forward chin and balances the impact of cold weather wear that crowds that area, all of which helps prevent neck pain. Bundle up with YTU intelligence for effective posture and a happy healthy winter is sure to follow.