Top Neck Pain Exercises: Get Rid Of Neck Pain | Deep Cervical Flexors

By Dr Ken Nakamura+

Get Rid Of Your Neck Pain With These Neck Exercises- Toronto Downtown Chiropractor

Do you have neck pain?  


Do you want to know the neck pain exercises that helps according to the research?  


In this issue of Bodi Empowerment I show you the neck pain exercises to get rid of that pain in the neck, literally.


Research has shown that people like you with neck pain use their larger superficial neck muscles as compared to their deeper neck muscles also called deep neck flexors. [1]-[3]


See Also: Top 3 Upper Back Exercises


The deep neck flexors are the muscles that aren’t activating via the nerves. Through injury, pain or irritation the nerve going to the muscles sends signals to the muscles to turn it off or inhibit them.


See Also: 3 Exercises For Cervical Spine Pain



Why is the muscle turned off or inhibited by the nerve? One of the reasons is if you  contract that muscle it would give you a painful neck, that’s why.  So by having the muscle work at eg. 1/2 strength you don’t irritate the muscle and thus your neck pain.   What this means is that in order to decrease pain and get more motion back into your neck there are key exercises that can help you. They are the deep neck flexor exercises.


For those keeners:

The Deep Cervical Flexors are made up by:

  • Longus Colli
  • Longus Capitus

The superficial Cervical Flexors are made up by:

  • Sternocleidomastoid (SCM)
  • Anterior Scale Muscles


Neck Pain Exercises:

Chin Nod: Activating the Deep Cervical Flexors For Neck Pain

Get Rid Of Your Neck Pain With These Neck Exercises- Toronto Downtown Chiropractor-Deep Neck Flexors Chin Nod

  • Lie Face up.
  • Place a small rolled up towel underneath the space of your neck to fill it up.
  • Place one hand covering the sides of your neck as if you are grabbing your own neck. (I didn’t do it in the picture so you can see)
  • Nod your chin ie. bring your chin forward toward your chest making sure you don’t activate those superficial muscles.


Careful when doing this exercise


If you feel your muscles tighten underneath your hand you are activating the superficial muscles. You shouldn’t feel any muscles tightening under your hands as the muscles you are using are too deep to palpate. You want to only activate the deep neck muscles.


Flexion Exercise For Neck Pain

Get Rid Of Your Neck Pain With These Neck Exercises- Toronto Downtown Chiropractor-Deep Neck Flexors-Flexion Exercise

  • Lie face-up.
  • Interlace your fingers behind your head to bring your head up to your chin.
  • Put your hands down at your side.
  • Hold your neck up for as long as you can then let your head come down slowly.


Bruegger For Neck Pain

Level 1 For Neck Pain

Get Rid Of Your Neck Pain With These Neck Exercises- Toronto Downtown Chiropractor-Deep Neck Flexors

  • Lie face down.
  • Bring your shoulder blades together and down: Don’t lift your hands off the table.
  • Your head comes off the table with your chin tucked in.


Level 2 For Neck Pain

Get Rid Of Your Neck Pain With These Neck Exercises- Toronto Downtown Chiropractor-Deep Neck Flexors

  • Get up on your elbows .
  • Bring your Shoulder blades together and down.
  • Chin tucked with your neck slightly flexed.
  • Extend your neck till your neck is aligned with chin still tucked in.

Level 3 For Neck Pain

Get Rid Of Your Neck Pain With These Neck Exercises- Toronto Downtown Chiropractor-Deep Neck Flexors

  • Lie face-down on the floor.
  • Contract your gluteus maximus (butt muscles) and raise your chest and arms off the floor.
  • Point your thumbs toward the ceiling.
  • Bring your shoulder blades together with a hard contraction, while pushing them toward your tail bone.
  • Hold for 10 seconds 3 times. Work your way up to a total time of 60 seconds without rest.


See Also: Exercises To Help Your Stiff Neck



Tell us what you think in the comments below and like us on Facebook. This Toronto Downtown Chiropractor will answer all questions in the comments section.


  1.  Jull GA, O’Leary SP, Falla DL. Clinical Assessment of the Deep Cervical Flexor Muscles: The Craniocervical Flexion Test. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 2008; 525-533.
  2. Cagnie B, Dickx N, Peeters I, Tuytens J, Achten E, Cambier D, Danneels L. The use of functional MRI to evaluate cervical flexor activity during different cervical flexion exercises. Journal of Applied Physiology. 2008; 104:230-235.
  3.  O’Leary S, Jull G, Kim M, Vincenzino B. Specificity in Retraining Craniocervical Flexor Muscle Performance. Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy. 2007; 37(1):3-9.


Dr Ken Nakamura

8 Responses to Top Neck Pain Exercises: Get Rid Of Neck Pain | Deep Cervical Flexors
  • Ferrari says:
    September 8, 2017 at 3:22 pm

    Hello, Dr. Ken,
    First of all, thanks for all your practical posts, as they kept me moving for the last few years. Lately I experience some upper back-neck pains, but the worse is the upper arm and right shoulder one. The pain is not radiating, but is concentrated on a single spot upper right elbow and it seems to target the muscle and upper arm bone. The radiography results were: 1.rectitude of the cervical spine, 2. previous C5 osteofite and 3. C5-C6 intervertebral space reduction. My family physician translated all as a cervical spondylosis. The level 3 for neck pain exerceise, seems to decrease the pain in the arm. As mentioned few years back, you replayed me as having DDD on my lower back. I did not reach to any neurologist yet, as the all recommend surgery here in Roumania. So, I stuck on your site doing the exercises for DDD and those above, which seems to help. The last thing is the pain I used to have in my left foot located between the instep and the arch started to show up again alongside with the neck-arm pains. So, what would be your views and recommended exercises in this new case? Thanks you a lot.

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      September 10, 2017 at 9:24 pm

      Thanks for your questions Ferrai. I would try these exercises.
      However, there is always a chance that you could get worse so that is why you should always do the exercises with a professional that knows the exercises. Unfortunately, most medical doctors don’t know the exercises as that is not their training. I am not familiar with the situation in Roumania.

      As for your instep do the back exercises again and that should help.

      Hope that helps your neck, should and arm pain. If you have any more questions for this Toronto downtown chiropractor I would do my absolute best to answer your questions. The above is an opinion and not a recommendation.

  • Rosemarie Mohammed Javed says:
    August 16, 2017 at 12:45 am

    I am so glad that I found “Rebalance Clinic” for treatment for my back pain. During my first visit, I was given a good treatment that reduce the pain from my back, neck, shoulder and left arm, it was just like a “MAGIC” that pains goes away right there.
    The process of their treatment helps you to get good result right away. It helps a big relief in just one visit, now I can easily move my neck without any pain.

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      August 20, 2017 at 10:13 pm

      Thanks for your review Rosemarie. I appreciate it.

  • Tone says:
    May 10, 2016 at 1:42 am

    Hi Dr. Ken,

    I have pain that radiates from the right neck, through trapezius/shoulder blade and often down my right arm. Pain is persistent whether sitting, standing or laying down. I also have weakness in right hand and have difficulty lifting things with right hand. I also notice that my right shoulder is lower than my left when I have my arms at my side. Would these exercises help with pain and realignment of my shoulder? or would you suggest something different?

    Thank you so much!

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      May 10, 2016 at 9:54 pm

      Thanks for your question Tone. You describe cervical radiculopathy but that is not a diagnosis. I would personally consult someone that can examine you and take a proper history. You should read this article.
      I wouldn’t do the exercises in the link but you could do a modified version where you do a chin tuck while lying down. Even then you can get worse. I advise that you go to someone that can make sure you are doing the exercises properly and modify them appropriately. Don’t do them on your own. You risk getting worse.

      Hope that helps your neck pain and cervical radiculopathy.

  • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
    September 12, 2014 at 5:19 am

    Thanks for the questions Susan. You should hold the stretches for 30 seconds at least.
    Hope that helps your neck pain.

  • Susan says:
    September 12, 2014 at 3:46 am

    How long do we hold these neck stretches for?

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