tight neck muscles

Releasing Tight Neck Muscles at Home

^Hans the human is holding his head forward

Tight muscles that are holding your head forward

With forward head posture, we often see the muscles in the front of the neck become overextended, while those in the back are short and tight. This is a characteristic picture of muscular imbalance in the head, neck and shoulders and it sets up an unstable support for your head! Let’s focus on two sets of paired muscles that are frequently noted for their tightness in people who have FHP: the sub-occipitals and sternocleidomastoid.

  • The sub-occipitals are located in the back of the head and connect the head to the top of the spine- these are small muscles with a direct connection to the spinal cord. Tightness in this region has the potential to create muscular dysfunction and pain. 
  • The sternocleidomastoid connects from the middle of the throat to behind the ear and is responsible for flexion of the neck, and is innervated by the accessory nerve. This muscle can be clearly seen when you rotate your head to the side. 

The way to begin reversing forward head posture is by releasing tight neck muscles

The occipital release:

  • Lie flat on your back 
  • Use a tennis ball or foam roller and place it under your neck, right at the base of the skull.
  • Turn your head and roll over the different muscles for about 5 minutes. 

Releasing the sternocleidomastoid

  • Turn your head to the side and locate the muscle. 
  • Use your fingers to gently massage the muscles; don’t dig your fingers too deep
  • Roll the muscle with your fingers
  • Repeat on the other side. 

These techniques should instigate a noticeable relief in tightness of the neck. After releasing the neck from tightness and improving your experience with pain, we can start strengthening the muscles that will help keep your head atop your spine where it belongs. 

Dr. Randall Holmes, D.C.