When it comes to taking care of our body, we all generally think about exercising our big muscle groups like our legs, arms, and core. We might think about stretching regularly, getting our 7,000-8,000 daily steps in, eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet, and taking care of our mental health. All of those things are the foundational pieces of being healthy, of course. Once you have mastered those, you can begin to get more specific with targeting the smaller things that can also contribute positively to your overall quality of life. One of the actions that can help reach that goal is pain prevention – specifically neck pain prevention. That’s where the chin tuck comes in handy.
Have you heard of the chin tuck? The chin tuck is a simple movement that can pay off in a big way when it comes to keeping the neck muscles healthy and pain-free. If you are interested in learning more about this powerful movement, keep reading. We are going to talk all about what this movement is, how your body can benefit from doing it, and how to effectively implement the chin tuck into your daily life.
What is the Chin Tuck?
The chin tuck is a subtle movement that can be used not only to build strength in your neck muscles, but can also help improve your posture. Working specifically towards both of these things can help prevent any unwanted neck pain. It can also ensure that your spine stays healthy and strong.
Now, this isn’t an exercise that is going to burn a lot of calories or get your heart rate up through the roof. But sometimes we need to do these really small “maintenance” movements that will keep our body feeling its best.
The chin tuck is a small movement that only requires a very subtle shift from your head and neck. But don’t let that fool you. The chin tuck can be effective in targeting many muscles within the neck that contribute to great posture and a pain-free existence because, let’s be honest…dealing with a pain in your neck can truly put a damper on your day-to-day quality of life.
Luckily, this effective movement requires no special equipment, can be completed in a short amount of time, and doesn’t even require you to stand if you don’t want to do so. It truly couldn’t be easier.
How to do a Chin Tuck
Here’s how you can do chin tucks from the comfort of your couch, office desk, or even while waiting in line at the grocery store. The chin tuck can be performed either sitting or standing. We recommend choosing whichever position is most comfortable for you.
First, sit or stand upright with your gaze straight out in front of you. It may be helpful to think about keeping your ears directly above your shoulders and keeping space between the two. It is common that we let our shoulders come up towards our ears, so make a conscious effort to pull your shoulders down while head still.
Once you have achieved the starting position, you can begin the chin tuck. Gently glide your chin back until you feel a stretch in the back of your neck. It is vital that your head moves in a straight line as you pull it back. Avoid moving your head up and down. Once you feel that good stretch throughout the back of your neck, hold that position for five seconds. Avoid any unnecessary moving and try your best to breathe deeply in this position. If you can’t hold that position for five seconds, choose an amount of time that you can hold it and then build to five over the course of days or weeks.
After five seconds have passed, bring the chin forward to the starting position. Repeat this movement for a total of 10 times. If 10 times seems like an unreachable number for you, never be afraid to start where your personal capabilities are. As you get more comfortable with the movement pattern and build up the tolerance, you can add more sets or more reps as you see fit.
If you need a deeper stretch, you can also apply some light resistance to your chin with your hand. When you have reached the end point on the chin tuck (the point at which your chin is all the way pulled back), place your hand on your chin and pull slightly down. You should feel that stretch in the back of your neck get deeper or more intense. Hold for five seconds and then release. It is important to listen to your body while doing the chin tuck. If you ever feel pain, stop the movement immediately. If you have had prior neck issues, we recommend consulting with your personal healthcare professional before adding the chin tucks into your daily routine.
How to Implement Chin Tucks into Your Daily Routine
The simplicity of the chin tuck means that you can do these essentially anywhere. No matter if you are working long hours, traveling, or stuck at home, the fact that the chin tuck requies no extra equipment and can be done quickly means that you can do these every day.
It is generally recommended that five to seven sets of 10 reps be performed each day. Not only does the chin tuck help strengthen and lengthen the neck muscles, it can also be a good reminder to check your posture throughout the day.
Find a routine that works for you. Maybe you do a set of chin tucks while you wait for your morning coffee to brew. Perhaps you do two more sets throughout your workday. Then cap the day off with another set or two before going to bed. Find moments throughout your day where you can safely and intentionally perform the chin tucks. You could even set alarms on your phone to remind you to do this.
It may take a little extra effort at first to remember to do your sets of chin tucks throughout the day, but once you find a routine that works for you, you will begin to feel the amazing effects of this simple (but powerful) exercise.
Benefits of Chin Tucks
The chin tuck is good to do if you experience uncomfortable pain in the neck region. If you have ever experienced a stiff neck after waking up in the morning or noticed tight trap muscles while sitting at your desk, the chin tuck could be for you.
Neck pain can be brought on by a myriad of different things. It could be from poor posture, the wrong kind of pillow, or overdoing it with certain exercises. Of course, if you have experienced an accident of traumatic physical event, neck pain might be prominent as well. Neck pain can also be a symptom of other conditions such as meningitis, a heart attack, or arthritis to name a few. While this is less common, if you have any suspicion at all that you might be experiencing any of these issues, please seek professional care immediately.
Even though the exercise is called a chin tuck, the muscles that benefit from it are actually in the neck. Specifically, the chin tuck helps strengthen the muscles that help keep the head properly aligned above the spine. These are the deep cervical flexors, lower cervical extensors, and the muscles in the front part of your neck.
The chin tuck will also stretch the scalene muscles. These are the muscles that can be found on the sides of your neck. Furthermore, the suboccipital muscles will also reap the benefits of this subtle movement. These are the muscles that help the head extend and rotate and they can often get tight and cause unwanted pain. All in all, if your neck needs some extra love, the chin tuck is the exercise to do to hit all the major muscle groups.
Neck pain is no fun at all. It can really put a damper on how you feel and your overall quality of life. While minor neck pain will most likely happen to most of us at some point in our life, the chin tuck is a simple, but effective, exercise that can ward it off and keep the muscles in our neck happy and healthy. We could all benefit from that no matter our personal fitness levels!
Outside of a few reasons (such as a head or neck injury), there really is no excuse to not implement the chin tuck into your daily routine. Again, this movement can be done sitting or standing. You can do it from your bed, your desk, your car, or standing in line at the grocery store. Once you do the chin tuck, you should feel relief almost immediately..The key, though, is to do them regularly throughout the day consistently. This will ensure that you reap the benefits of the chin tuck for days, weeks, months, and years to come. Let’s make this year the year that we no longer suffer from neck pain!