Whenever you have any sort of upper cross syndrome or forward head posture, longus colli is going to be tight. Maybe more importantly though, is how involved this muscle can be with disc injuries (along with scalenes and sternocleidomastoid). By stretching this muscle correctly we can aid in chronic posture issues as well as potentially aid in disc injury symptoms. (to learn more about disc injuries, read Massage Therapy for Disc Injuries)
The keys to stretching this muscle are more in the form that we use than the complexity of motion. The important thing to remember when stretching this muscle is to think elongation of the spine while doing our motions. This will help with any sort of compression of the spine which can be an issue with someone who has hypertonicity in this area.
- Begin in a standing position. Extend the cervical spine back to lengthen the muscle making sure to focus on keeping a long cervical spine.
- Once extended, turn your head slightly to one side to focus the stretch on one side and lengthen further.
Note: It is important to make sure that we are extending the cervical spine specifically, and not just tilting the head back. If the head is tilted too far without proper cervical extension, it can lead to compression in the cervical spine, compromising blood flow to the brain. Also, not extending the cervical spine will not stretch the muscle very effectively.
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