Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

Which Muscles Should I Strengthen For Neck Pain?

January 6, 2020


The muscles of the neck are responsible for movements of the head and shoulder blade, as well as, stabilization of the head on the neck during daily activities. These muscles must be capable of both low repetition, high force contractions as well as high repetition, low force contractions to accomplish these tasks. Patient’s with neck pain, headache, and jaw pain frequently demonstrate weakness in the upper quarter including the neck and shoulder. Researchers have consistently found weakness in the muscles which bring our chin to our chest, as well as, allow us to look up toward the ceiling. In addition to these neck flexors and extensors new research reports which muscle groups remain weak in patients with chronic neck pain.

Miranda and colleagues conducted a systematic review and meta analysis of the literature regarding neck strength measurements in patients with neck pain (J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2019) Authors included 15 articles which consistently showed patients with persistent neck pain demonstrated lower strength than their asymptomatic peers. Weakness was found in all the of the neck musculature including the cervical flexors, extensors, and lateral side bending muscles. This study highlights the importance of strengthening the neck musculature in patients with neck pain. Patients should aim to target muscles on each side of the neck, as well as, the upper body musculature to improve their current pain and function