Neck strengthening exercises

Welcome to my ultimate guide to Neck Strengthening Exercises for neck pain!

  • Do you suffer from neck pain?
  • Does it feel like it’s not getting any better?
  • … Or perhaps it’s even getting worse?

 then this post is for you!

The purpose of this article:

I would love to share with you the exact neck strengthening exercises that have worked both for myself as well as many of my neck pain suffering patients.
I am certain they can help you too!

Like what you’re reading?: Come join me on the Facebook page!

Some questions you may have…

Why do you need to do neck strengthening exercises?

My immediate response would be “Why not?“…

The only way your neck issues are going to improve is that if you actually decide to do something about it.

You do not have to live with pain!

Pain is not normal. It is a sign that your body isn’t working at its best.

These neck strengthening exercises are designed to help you address the factors that may be causing your neck pain.

Are neck strengthening exercises dangerous?


The neck strengthening exercises are designed to be gentle and safe.

If you are unsure whether or not you should be doing them, please consult your local health practitioner prior commencing any exercises.

There are certain conditions such as cervical stenosis, nerve impingement, disc bulges, instability, vascular issues, arthritis (just to name a few), which may possibly get worse if you over do the exercises.

Do what you are capable for doing, assess how you respond to them and progress the neck strengthening exercises as appropriate.

How often do I need to do them?

My rule of thumb: Do them as many times throughout the day as you can. (More the merrier, I say!)

But as a general guideline, I would advise to aim for at least 2/week as a minimum.

Just take it easy for the first few days as it may take some time for your neck to get accustomed to the neck strengthening exercises.

WARNING : These neck exercises are to be conducted in a gentle and safe way. They must not cause any sharp pain, dizziness or headaches. Period.

The ultimate guide to Neck Strengthening Exercises

I have divided this section into 6 different levels of difficulty.

Make sure you are able to perform all of the exercises comfortably before proceeding to the next level of neck strengthening exercises.

It is designed this way as to minimize the chance of performing an exercise that is outside your capabilities.

Level 1: Releases

Before you start any of the neck strengthening exercises, it is important that any tight neck structures are released to decrease stiffness.

Any build up of tension may make it difficult for you to perform the exercises properly.

Keep in mind: You will find certain spots that are quite tender to touch. These are generally the tight muscles you should be targeting! Keep at it!

[Duration: 10 minutes]

a) Sternocleidomastoid

These neck muscles are located at the front/side of your neck.

Although these muscles seem to rarely be the painful spots that people complain of, they are definitely common drivers of pain all around the neck region.

scm release


  • Locate the muscle using a pinch grip (see above for location).
  • Gently apply pressure between your thumb and index finger.
  • Adjust pressure accordingly.
  • Move up and down the side of the neck to cover all areas.
  • Repeat on other side.
  • Duration: 1 minute per side.

b) Upper trapezius/Levator scapulae

These muscles are usually the main areas people with neck pain point to when I ask them “where does it hurt?”.

They are situated at the back of the neck/shoulder region and often subject to overload.

upper trapezius release


  • Apply pressure to the upper trapezius and levator scapula region.
    • You can use a massage ball, go for a massage, use a BodyBackBuddy (in picture)
  • Spend at least 1-2 minutes doing this to both sides.

c) Sub-occipitals:

Situated at the base of the skull, these muscles are usually way over worked in individuals with bad posture (see post: Poked neck posture).

These muscles are usually the ones responsible for headaches.

sub occipital releases


  •  Whilst lying down, place a ball underneath the base of the skull.
  • Apply a gentle pressure into the ball.
  • Move your head around to target different tight areas.
  • Duration: 1 minute on each side

d) 1st rib mobilization

Several muscles in the neck attached into the 1st rib of the rib cage.

If the 1st rib does not move properly, the connecting neck tissues will also not move properly which can lead to stiffness/pain/overactivity of muscles.

1st rib mobilization


  • Place a strap over the junction between the neck and shoulder. (see above)
  • Firmly pull the strap in a downwards direction.
  • Tilt your head to the opposite side.
    • Do not tilt your torso. Make sure only your head is moving.
  • Duration: 1 minute to both sides.

Level 2: Mobility

This level comprises of neck exercises which involve moving the neck through its normal movements.

This is an important step as obtaining normal movement will be the beginning of the healing process.

Remember – take your movements as far as you can go without reproducing any pain.

[Duration: <5 minutes]

a) Retraction (Chin tuck)

chin tuck retraction

Note: This chin tuck position is the starting position for all of your Level 2 neck strengthening exercises.

(This is to avoid starting from a forward neck position.)


  • Whilst sitting upright, gently tuck your chin in.
    • Also known as “making a double chin”.
  • Make sure to keep your jaw and neck muscles relaxed.
  • Hold for 5 seconds.
  • Repeat 10 times.

b) Flexion/Extension

flexion extension neck


  • Gently tuck your chin in.
  • Slowly look all the way up, then slowly look  all the way down.
    • Make sure that your chin does NOT jut out throughout the exercise.
  • Repeat 10 times.

c) Rotation

rotation neck


  • Gently tuck your chin in.
  • Look all the way left/right.
    • Make sure that you do not allow your chin to jut forward at the end of the movement.
  • Repeat 10 times.

d) Lateral flexion

lateral flexion neck


  • Gentle tuck you chin in.
  • Tilt your neck from side-to-side.
  • Repeat 10 times.

e) Circular movements


  • Whilst keeping your neck as relaxed as possible, draw a circle with your neck.
  • Change directions.
  • Only move your neck as far as you are comfortable.
  • Repeat 10 times.

Level 3: Stretching

NOTE: Make sure you feel the stretch where you are meant to.

If you do not feel a stretch with these neck exercises, then it is likely that you are not stretching anything!

[Duration: 10-15 minutes]

a) Neck flexion stretch

neck flexion stretch


  • Whilst sitting upright, gently tuck your chin in and look down.
  • Place your hand at the back of your head and apply a downward pressure.
  • Aim to feel a stretch at the back of your neck.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 2 times.

b) Lateral flexion stretch

neck lateral flexion stretch


  • Whilst sitting upright, tilt your head to the side (Ear to the shoulder).
  • Place your hand on the side of your head and apply a gentle pressure.
  • Aim to feel a stretch on the side of your neck.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Alternate sides.
  • Repeat 2 times.

c) Levator scapulae stretch

levator scapula stretch


  • Whilst sitting upright, look towards your armpit.
  • Place your hand on the back of your head and apply a downward pressure towards the armpit direction.
  • To increase the stretch, point your lower arm down to the floor to depress your shoulder.
  • Aim to feel a stretch on the side/back of your neck.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Alternate sides.
  • Repeat 2 times.

d) Front neck stretch

front neck stretch


  • Whilst sitting upright, look up and rotate your head to the side.
  • Place your hand on the collar bone on the opposite side to which you have rotated to.
  • Pull the skin on the collar bone downwards.
  • Aim to feel a stretch at the front/side of your neck.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Alternate sides.
  • Repeat 2 times.

e) Rotation with over pressure

neck rotation over pressure


  • Whilst sitting upright, turn your head all the way to one side.
  • Place your hand at side of your head and apply pressure.
  • Hold for 3 seconds.
  • Repeat 10 times.
  • Alternate sides.

f) Retraction with over pressure

neck retraction over pressure


  • Whilst lying on your back, tuck your chin in.
  • Place your hands at the front of your chin and apply a downward pressure.
  • Aim to feel a stretch at the back of your neck.
  • Hold for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat 3 times.

Level 4: Strengthen the Deep neck flexors!

This exercise is designed to strengthen the muscles that are responsible for placing your head and neck into the correct position.

[Duration: 10 minutes]

a) Retraction with deep neck flexor activation (lying down)

chin nods


  • Whilst lying down on your back, tuck your chin in.
    • “Make a double chin.”
  • Whilst keeping the chin tucked, gently nod and hold your chin towards your chest.
  • Hold for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat 10 times/ 2-3 sets
  • Be sure to keep the neck muscles are relaxed as possible.

b) Retraction with deep neck flexor activation (progression)


  • Whilst lying down on your back, tuck and hold your chin in.
  • Gently pull your head off the floor.
    • You can use your hands to help you if required.
    • Hold for 3-5 seconds.
  • Whilst keeping your chin tucked in throughout, slowly lower head back to floor.
  • Repeat 10 times/2-3 sets
  • Be sure to keep neck muscles are relaxed as possible.

Level 5:
 Neck strengthening exercises

Level 1-4 neck exercises are a complete waste if you have no strength/endurance to maintain a good position of your neck.

Additionally – Strong muscles will allow the neck to tolerate much more load and stress.

[Duration: 10 minutes]


a) Rotation

isometric neck rotation


  • Whilst sitting upright, place your palm on the side of your head.
  • Gently turn your head into the hand.
    • Match the force of your hand.
  • Hold for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat 5 times.
  • Alternate sides.

b) Lateral flexion

isometric neck lateral flexion


  • Whilst sitting upright, place your palm on side of your head.
  • Gently tilt your head into your hand.
    • Match the force of your hand.
  • Hold for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat 5 times.
  • Alternate sides.

Dynamic movements

c) Retraction

neck retraction against gravity


  • Lie on your stomach.
  • Support your forehead on a rolled up towel.
  • Gently tuck your chin in as to slightly lift your forehead off the towel.
  • Hold for 5 seconds.
  • Repeat 10 times.

d) Extension against gravity

extension against gravity


  • Lie face down on a bench with your head off the side.
  • Whilst keeping your chin tucked in, lift your head up to a leveled position.
  • Hold for 5-10 seconds.
  • Repeat 10 times.

For more exercise like this, check out this post: Neck Extensor Exercises.

e) Lateral flexion against gravity

neck lateral flexion against gravity


  • Comfortably lie on your side with your head supported by a pillow.
  • Gently lift head of pillow.
  • Hold for 3-5 seconds.
  • Repeat 5 times.
  • Alternate sides.

Level 6: Fixing your posture (the bigger picture)

This level involves dealing with your neck pain and treating it more wholistically.

Since all of the structures on your body are connected to each other in one way or another, they all influence each other.

Did you know: The source of your neck pain may actually be coming from structures that aren’t even located in the neck.

…Wait, what? Confused? Let that sink in for a second…

What does this mean for you?

It means that if you find that these neck exercises have not cured your neck pain, then you will need to search other areas of your posture that may be causing your issues.

You can do all these valuable neck strengthening exercises… and they will certainly work for most, but there may be some of you who may just have to look a bit deeper to find the pain generator.

… But – that’s why this website exists!

I would like to offer you the other solutions that you may not have already thought of!

Have a look at these other blog posts to get you started on fixing your posture:

Please feel free to ask me a question down below in the comments section if you are unsure of anything!

56 thoughts on “Neck strengthening exercises”

  1. Imagine you do some sort of back and pelvis exercises and end up ruining your back and pelvis. Now you have no idea how to go back to your former body. And every moment your body aches and you cannot do the physical activities you used to do. You go to doctors (to be exact in a third world country). And doctors end up giving you medicines putting the problem in some generic category. You eat medicines but they don’t work. How can they? The problem is exercise induced. Not something they are stating. So yeah you stop going to local doctors and only thing you can do is try explaining your problem and seek help online from experts.


    In year 2018, i.e., four years ago I wanted to do some back and pelvis exercises because I hated how my body looked.

    From my birth I had an deeper anterior pelvic tilt than other people and I hated it. So I wanted it gone and wanted something normal.

    I started to do a set of back and pelvis exercises, self learnt from youtube. The thing is that I did it very very wrongly, intensely and I did it way too much for more than a year and it ruined my pelvis (whole lower body actually) and now I can’t even stand properly. I cannot do many physical activities or play physical games at all. There is too much pain to deal with now. Okay, so after I did those exercises for more than a year I thought it will get healed and return to normal by its own if I take rest. But three years has passed and my pelvis and back are in a bad shape. I have to deal with physical pain on a day to day basis. I have to live very carefully. Its not just pain, I cant even stand properly and have problems with balance and all. To be honest it is being very hard to find the right words to explain my issue,but I have no choice but to try explaining it.
    My body shape is now completely different than before. I did those exercises and my posture has become bad and slouching type with a severe posterior pelvic tilt with problematic knees. I have also complications on my body above the pelvis like an extremely decreased arch of lower back than what it was before.

    I have tried all sort of things like yoga and squats to fix my pelvis but any kind of exercise now just brings in intense pain. The most frustrating part of my problem is that i have no idea how to explain someone this problem like it’s too complicated, and i am very afraid if it can be fixed. so i am very in need of help right now.

    • Hi Ashish,

      It sounds like you went from having an extreme anterior pelvic tilt to an extreme posterior pelvic tilt by doing pelvis exercises too much?

      Have you tried some exercises for the posterior pelvic tilt?

      See post: Posterior pelvic tilt

      Where are you experiencing your pain now? You may need to specifically address this before you start any other exercises, otherwise, it may be very challenging to move into the required positions.


  2. Mark, thank you so much for the detailed information! I will be working through many of your articles, but I’m starting here with the neck strengthening. I’m now on Level 2. My neck is very noisy when I do the movements, like crumpling cellophane. It’s kind of alarming! Is this OK? Will it always be that way? Thank you!

  3. How can I reverse the effects of having my neck sideways kind of like when you cradle your phone between ear and shoulders? Because of this bad posture my x-ray shows my neck leaning towards the left so I want to straighten it.

    • Hey Steve,

      You can try stretching the neck the opposite direction to help stretch out the tight muscles pulling your neck to the one side.

      However- I would also recommend that you check to see if you have any side bends or perhaps scoliosis in your spine as this can encourage a tilted head.

      See post: Scoliosis Exercises.


  4. hey, first of all, thank you for this information
    is it possible to over do this exercises?
    is there any benefit for doing that more than once a day or should i stay at 1?

    • Hey Norman,

      If you do it with enough intensity and there’s no adverse events from that, 1/day should be fine.

      If it suits you, you can do 2/day at a lesser intensity.


  5. Hey Mark, I suffer from neck pain and shoulder pain. Recently, it’s gotten worse because I pulled a muscle while I was sleeping somehow. For some reason, I also got a small fever at the same time this was happening and it lasted for 5 days with no other symptoms. Do you know if muscle pain can cause this? I’ve gotten headaches and felt slightly dizzy before but never had a fever accompany muscle pain.

    • Hey Joel,

      There are some conditions such as the flu which can cause muscular aches.

      I am not aware of muscles causing fevers though.

      Might need to check with the doctor with this one!


  6. Hi, I am trying to do the rotation over with pressure exercise (e) but it hurts my neck muscles whenever I try to turn my head to the right. Do you have any other suggestions on exercises that would exercise the muscles that I use to turn my head?

    • Hi Jopie,

      Here are some suggestions:

      1. Don’t apply an over pressure
      2. Apply only a gentle over pressure.
      3. Only turn your head to the range that is just before you feel the pain.
      4. If you feel a pinch on the right side when you turn to the right, consider stretching this right side by pulling your head to the left. (Lateral flexion stretch in this blog post)
      5. Look slightly downwards before rotating to the right.

      All the best.


  7. Hi mark

    I’ve worked on these along w Forward Head Posture suggestions, and really want to fix my forward head posture! I’ve had it for many years. I’ve found that a lot of the time I try to release SCM muscles or do much work on subbocipitals, or esp stretching of scalenes or levatur scap, it causes a headache from the stressed area. Why would this happen? It I try to do chin tucks much, the subbocipitals get tight. Any suggestions would be great!! Thanks

    • Or rather, what can I do maybe for more sensitive treatment to start? I’m just afraid they’ve been tight for so long they’re just overly sensitive

      • Heyo Nicky,

        You might need to cut back on the intensity of the exercises, stretches and/or releases.

        The neck muscles can tense up again if you push too hard and might take some time for the neck to build up the tolerance to the exercises.

        My recommendation: Do the same exercises, but at 50% intensity and see how you go.


  8. Hi! Love your program. Have done the pelvis rotation exercises among others with great results!
    I have problems with tmj/neck and wanted to ask if you could help with something. My sternocleidomastoid/levators/scalenes are so dang tight and every time I do deep flexor exercises like you list above, I inevitably overwork the SCM, levators, etc instead of the deep flexors. In fact, I am laying in bed right now with a horrible migraine from doing just that this morning! When I tuck my chin, lift head off table, I feel my SCM muscles activate. I CANNOT unactivate them. What do I do? Do I power through? I honestly don’t know if I can? Is it because the flexors are really that weak, or my SCM muscles are that overtrained ??? Is there an exercise that will isolate just the deep flexor muscles? Help????

    • Hey April,

      Try to release and stretch the over working muscles.

      From here – it sounds like you need to regress the Deep neck flexor exercises. A good exercise would be just to focus on chin nods whilst lying down and progressively increase the difficulty over time.


  9. Hi Mark

    I want to thank you for changing my life
    I started off working on my shoulder impingement and realized I have chicken neck
    Your program is absolutely incredible
    I’m finding adjusting my posture is slowly strengthening my neck and posture muscles and its correcting pain in several areas of my body
    Keep up the outstanding work
    Many blessings

  10. Hey Mark, I noticed that my lower back (near my buttocks) was hurting while I was sleeping and I was wondering if you had any exercises for it. I think it’s mainly caused by bad posture since I sit down on my computer chair for many hours a day.

    • Hey Peter,

      Any exercises that require your upper limb use will require you to engage your neck muscles. ( in fact, all exercises will probably engage the neck in one way or the other)

      If you were wondering which exercises might hit the neck more so, I would go with things like dead lifts, bent over rows, rear delt flies for the posterior neck… and exercises like the bench press, supine abdominal work for the anterior neck.


  11. Hi Mark, Thank you so much for these exercises. I have neck pain, stiffness, and weakness from whiplash from an accident almost 5 months ago. I’ve seen General Doc, Orthopedic, Chiro, PT,massage, and Neurologist. Had MRI and X-ray and they say it’s normal and problem is “muscular” (myofacial). When I do a lot of stretching especially rotation left and right, I am in bad pain for 3 days. When I do exercises like some rows, planks, etc… including some of the above exercises- done for 3-4 days again and is such discomfort I can’t sleep. Question is: do I need to toughen up and fight through the discomfort and pain and keep doing it or back off. When I get too much rest it gets stiff and weak. I can’t win. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hey Rick,

      If the scans rule out any serious issues (nerve, fractures etc), and it is indeed just a muscular issue, I would try to power through the exercises.

      Keep in mind, you may have some SENSITISATION occurring in your structures which may explain why you feel sore for days after exercises.

      My advice would be to persist with your exercises, do what you can/don’t do what you can’t do yet, keep progressing as often as you can tolerate and stay active.

      All the best, Rick!


  12. Hi Mark. My neck is extremely tight. Coukd this be contributing to problems with my jaw? It locks shut and my mouth openong is very small. The masseters are very tight and feel overworked.

    Originally I thought the issue was with the jaw but could they be overworking and compensating for my weak, thin and tight neck?

    I wonder whether focusing on strengthening and loosening the neck will fix my jaw.

    • Hey Alfie,

      You could be spot on!

      Jaw clenching can be a sign that you are compensating for weakness somewhere else in your body (esp. the neck).

      Try releasing (dig your fingers into the masseter) and stretching (pull your jaw downwards with your fingers on your teeth of the bottom jaw) to get some relief.

      Follow up with some neck strengthening exercises (namely forward head posture exercises) and see how it goes in the next few weeks.

      On top of that – make sure you address any activities or positions that you may be adopting on a regular basis that may be compounding the issue.


  13. Hi Mark! Thank you for your wonderful blog. I am a yoga teacher and have suggested your blog to a number of my students.
    I’ve read some articles that have advised against neck circles.

    I’m guessing you disagree. I would love to know your thoughts.
    Thank you-Karen

    • Hey Karen,

      Neck circles are awesome! … provided that the neck is able to tolerate them.

      This exercise is designed to take the neck into its normal full range of motion. If you don’t aim to train your full range of motion (pain-free), then you will never reclaim the full movement of a joint.

      Some people with forward head posture may need to ease off the combined movements of full extension/rotation to avoid compression of the joints.


  14. hi mark! Im your one of fan Rabia.
    I’ve been reading your post hardly
    so, this case is I have neck strain on today morning.
    I can’t move head to left side. then Can I do these neck exercises you taught ?
    How can i do for my neck on today?

    • Hi Rabaia,

      If your neck is in a lot of pain right now, I would focus on just gentle range of motion exercises. Stay away from any spikes in pain.


  15. hi mark,
    would those stretches and exercises take care of the omohyoid muscle as well? or should I look for stretches that are specific to this particular muscle? it seems that first rib mobilization & front neck stretch should address this muscle, but I was wondering if I should go deeper,


    • Hi Rouba,

      I haven’t specifically given exercises to strengthen the omohyoid muscle. However – with poor positioning of this muscle secondary to poor posture, its function can definitely be influenced. Or even worse – it can be recruited to do a movement that is not meant to do!

      But to answer your question, the stretches to the front and side of the neck will also include this muscle.


  16. Hi Mark,

    I get dizzy the day after I go for long road bike rides. I think it has something to do with the flexion of my neck on the bike. It’s the only thing that sets it off. I have raised my handle bars to a more upright position and I’m no longer getting the tweaky neck pain I used to feel after rides. Although, after long rides I still get dizzy. When I say dizzy it’s not vertigo. It’s the sensation of brain fog, feeling off equilibrium, tired and irritated eyes. What neck stretches and strenghinging exercises do you recommend I focus on for this and when should I do these exercises? I have a 100 mile century I’m training for so stop riding is not what I like to hear :-). Thanks Mark! I really appreciate all this info you provide.

    • Hey Camilla Chalmers.

      I recognize your name from the Facebook group :)

      With cycling, it is common to have your neck in a hyper extended position to see the road in front of you.

      This can jam up your neck joints and muscles at the back of your neck. This area can be associated with dizziness, eye pain, headache etc when tight/overloaded.

      You will need to stretch and release the area first.

      Follow up with Deep neck flexor strengthening.

      Try to maintain a gentle chin tuck/nod whilst riding. (This will be difficult due to the position of cycling. Just aim to keep your chin slightly nodded downwards by just a little bit and see how that goes)


  17. Hi Mark I have a 9mm tear in the supraspinatus tendon and physio & needling not helping. I am to see orthopaedic specialist in 6 weeks, but really don’t want an op as they don’t seem to be successful. Am seeing a Prolozone (PRP treatment possibly) Doctor tomorrow. Can you suggest my best way forward and if exercises will help/repair tear. The position that is painful is putting my left arm outward against the wall and to put my left arm behind my back and upwards. I am 66 yrs old & do quite physical upper body work. I can lift my arms above my head easily enough. Any comments would be much appreciated.

  18. Hi Mark,
    Really like your posts, very informative. I work on my posture a lot, but still sometimes have trouble getting my head to release to the floor when attempting to lie on my back. It feels like the tightness is in my trapezius muscles more than my neck. Can you suggest any excercises to release the tightness and what may be causing it?

    Thank you in advance for your reply.
    All the BEST!

    • Hey Robert,

      Do you mean you are unable to get your neck towards the floor?

      If so – make sure you are keeping your hip and knees bent. This will take away the arch in your lower back, which then may allow your neck to reach the floor.

      You will need to focus on stretching/releasing the muscles at the back of the neck.

      This post has many exercises that you can try: Forward head posture


  19. Hi Mark,

    I had a concussion a half year ago, and i assume whiplash as well, since then i have had troubles with my neck and posture. i worked on my posture, and after a while i think i’ve gotten over most of the postural issues.

    I’m left with one issue though, my neck, i find that my suboccipitals, i think this is the case with my scm and possibly scalenes too, but mostly in the suboccipitals, even after releasing them multiple times, they keep tightening up, and when they tighten i get a tight feeling in the back of my skull reaching up and around, kind of makes it difficult to think and function normally, im relatively certain it has to do with these muscles because when i release these muscles the feeling fades,

    what could be causing this, and how can i get it to stop tightening up, because this happens throughout the day even though i keep good posture, i was told that it’s not from whiplash and so i’ve been trying to solve this problem, i’ve gotten a massotherapist to work on my neck, i’ve tried releasing it and stretching it, but the same issue arises that it tightens back up again.

    i have one suspicion of what it could be at the moment but i wanted your opinion on if you think this is a possibility and how i could solve it, i was thinking this could this be due to weak suboccipital / (semi) spinalis capitus etc, because in the past six monthes i’ve been very reluctant to look up at all, like say to look straight up at a bird or plane flying, or when i bend over to pick something up and lift head up to see something, because it makes the suboccipitals tighten up and then i have to go through the process to release them again, could it be that they are actually weak, and this is causing the muscles to tighten up whenever i use them, and if so and how would i go up about strengthening these muscles that let me look up?

    • Hi there Joseph,

      The first thing I would check out is if you have a forward head posture.

      Check out this post: Forward head posture

      This head position forces the sub-occipital muscles to be over active.

      If you do not have a forward head posture, then you may be right in saying that these muscles are weak.

      A good way to strengthening them is to do the strengthening exercises as mentioned on the forward head posture post.

      Let me know how it goes.


  20. What is a good position to be in to read? I find this to be the chain cause of my neck problems and it only enhances my dowangers hump.
    Thank you for all of the information you are providing! It is most helpful.


    • Hi Helen,

      You want to bring the book up closer to eye level. (This will reduce the need to look down too long.)

      I personally change positions quite frequently when reading a book. Keep moving!


  21. Hey Mark,

    One of my SCMs has been tightening up for several months now, causing headaches and dizziness. It seems to be extremely overactive as even the most basic strengthening exercises, like simple chin tucks, cause it to tighten up. I realize once it tightens up, I’m not really engaging my deep neck flexors anymore. So, do you know if there are any simple movements/exercises that would allow me to strengthen my deep neck flexors without tightening the SCMs in the process? Thanks

    • Hi Shane,

      Great question.

      You will benefit from focusing on stretching and releasing your SCM first. This will neurologically reduce the muscular tension in the SCM.


      Until you can activate your DNF without SCM, you should not progress to the other more difficult exercises.

      PRO TIP: as you perform a chin tuck, gently push your tongue to the top of your palate. This will help turn off your SCM.


  22. Hello Mark,
    Your neck exercise have 5 levels. Are we suppose to do level 1 for say a month before moving on to level 2 and so on OR are we doing all 5 levels each time?

    • Hey Phong,

      You can do whatever works for you. It depends on the condition of your neck really.

      I personally would recommend doing all of them if possible.


  23. How many repetitions for the one with the video (b) Retraction with deep neck flexor activation (progression))?

    Thanks for sharing all this valuable info!

  24. Dear mark, I have had three neck surgeries. They were all fusions. My neck is very locked, and the pain is never ending. I also have bad posture, I cannot seem to correct it. Do you sell a tool I can use to force my body to the correct posture? Something that will help me to know when my posture is correct. I am in desperate need of help. I cut hair, and that work promotes bad posture. Please help, I’m desperate for help.

    • Hi there Laura,

      If you have had fusions in the neck (especially at multiple levels), then your movement will definitely be limited.

      Make sure you be consistent with the neck exercises. It can take some time to correct your posture, but remember you have also had your bad posture for a long time as well. Consistency and patience is the key here.

      There are certain things that can “force you into correct posture” like Posture Shirts, taping, posture braces… however, if used in the long term, will make your postural muscles even weaker.


      • Hello mr. Mark
        Great exercises, big variety, many of them I seen for first time. I have and other programs for neck etc, but many of yours are unique.
        Great job, keep on moving.
        Thank for your help and wisdom

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.