Individuals suffering from chronic neck pain and whiplash injury were observed to have postural instability (1).
Postural control is maintenance of body position in space during any posture or activity.
The body receives sensory information (afferent input) from vision, proprioception and the vestibular system in order to generate stability and positional orientation (2).
A study from the Journal of Clinical Biomechanics reported fatigue of the muscles at the back of the neck (cervical extensor muscles), which may affect neck function AND balance. The muscles were fatigued via isometric contraction of the cervical extensor muscles at 25% maximum contraction for a period of 15 minutes, which produced significant postural instability (3).
Another study published in the Journal of Acta Otolaryngol reported that individuals with neck “tension” demonstrated altered posture and worse stability when compared with healthy subjects (4).
Head & Neck Extensor Muscles
The extensor muscles are located at the back (posterior) of the neck brings the head backward (extends), which include:
- Splenius Capitus
- Splenius Cervicis
- Semispinalis Cervicis
- Semispinalis Capitus
- Spinalis Cervicis
- Upper Trapezius
- Longissimus Cervicis
- Levator Scapula
- Rectus Capitis Posterior Major
- Rectus Capitis Posterior Minor
Are you clumsy and seem to trip on your own feet? Or do you lean to one side when you run? Have you ever experience whiplash? Your extensor neck muscles may be weak. Your neck is not just important for the ‘standing posture’. If you are a gym-goer or an athlete, balance in ‘dynamic posture’ is crucial for optimal performance. Your neck weakness could be holding you back. A chiropractor can assess your neck structurally and prescribe specific neck stretches and exercises.
1. McPartland, J.M., Brodeur, R.R., Hallgren, R.C. (1997). Chronic neck pain, standing balance, and suboccipital muscle atrophy––a pilot study. J. Manip. Physiol. Therap. 20, 24–29.
2. Panzer, V.P., Bandinelli, S., Hallet, M. (1995). Biomechanical assessment of quiet standing and changes associated with aging. Arch.
3. Gosselin, G., Rassoulian, H., Brown, I. (2004). Effects of neck extensor muscles fatigue on balance. Clinical Biomechanics;19(5)473-479.
4. Koskimies, K., Sutinen, P., Aalto, H., Starck, J., Toppila, E., Hirvonen, T., Kaksonen, R., Ishizaki, H., Alaranta, H., Pyykko,I. (1997). Postural stability, neck proprioception and tension neck. Acta Otolaryngol. (Stockh) 529, 95–97.