Core Talk: Neck

Continuing on with this series, we find ourselves at the neck this week. Most people do not think of the neck as having “core muscles”. However, if we are defining core muscles as those muscles that are meant for stabilizing roles and are meant to work for longer periods, then you absolutely have muscles like this in your neck!

As with the other regions that we have talked about, these muscles’ function can be effected by multiple factors. Just to review, the stabilizing function of these muscles can be effected by mechanical restrictions (i.e. something is tight and not allowing those muscles to function as efficiently as they should), neuromuscular function deficits (i.e. something is causing that muscle not to initiate a contraction as easily, or the strength and/or endurance of those muscles is not what it should be), or there may be a motor control deficit (i.e. everything is moving well around that region, the muscles can initiate appropriately and the strength/endurance is good, but there is something that is not allowing those muscle to function in the capacity that they should with other systems, regions, actions that they should).

Let’s define efficiency at the neck and inefficiency at the neck.

EFFICIENT NECK VS. INEFFICIENT NECK

An efficient neck is one that moves through all of its ranges with minimal restriction to that movement and has good stability in a way that these muscles automatically engage to stabilize in response to outside forces, or loading of the system, such as with lifting or push/pull tasks.

An inefficient neck is one that feels stiff, has pain, and is restricted with one or more motions. Looking over your shoulders may be difficult, looking down may be difficult, or some other motion may be difficult. The neck muscles meant for stability do not automatically engage in response to outside forces. With this you may feel stress or pulling in your neck with lifting, or with pushing or pulling. You may also feel pain with these activities.

TAKING IT A LITTLE FURTHER

Just to connect the dots a bit, think about this: There are core muscles of the neck or that are in the region of the neck that also affect the shoulder. SO, this means that the neck and shoulder are connected! If there is a shoulder issue, it will likely affect the neck, and visa versa.

Just because these blogs have been separated into regions, that has only been for the purpose of education. One cannot separate one region from another so easily. This is why it is important to have a clinician that understands this and can treat multiple regions well, not just be a specialist in one region. This, of course, is one opinion, but a valid one. If our goal is to “treat the whole person,” then there needs to be an understanding of how the different regions and systems of the bottom work together and affect each other.

picture from Atlas of Human Anatomy, by Frank Netter
picture from Atlas of Human Anatomy, by Frank Netter´╗┐

Our next, and last post, in this series will focus on the trunk and hopefully tie all of these posts together.