As a physical therapist, I’m often asked by other clinicians and patients how I use the NecksLevel device to treat neck pain. It’s a good question, because there are so many different ways to use the NecksLevel device. It is designed to be an all-encompassing neck rehabilitation tool; capable of improving neck strength, increasing neck mobility and range of motion, and alleviating neck pain. This kind of versatility comes with a plethora of neck exercises and techniques for users to choose from. So, let’s go through my Day 1 NecksLevel program for new users.
I like to keep my neck rehabilitation programs on the NecksLevel device as simple as possible, and there are a few “go-to” movements that I have all of my patients perform. Now, an important note is that I do not treat everyone using the NecksLevel the same, given that no two people with neck pain are the same. So, I’d like to share how I think about neck rehabilitation using the NecksLevel device, and the best places to start for anyone ready to use it.
We can kill a few birds with one stone by starting with the exercise that got the Neckslevel device where it is today….the neck Rotation Range of Motion exercise. Regardless of the injury, I always start here. Why? This single exercise can be both very informative, and very therapeutic. Let’s say our patient has neck stiffness. This exercise will start to improve their rotation range of motion in a comfortable, non-weight bearing position, while familiarizing the user with the device. Or, let’s imagine a flexible, perhaps hypermobile neck pain patient. This same exercise becomes an elegant strategy for retraining neck rotation with proper control and form. Regardless of the injury, the clinician can look for movement asymmetries, compensations and begin to formulate a treatment strategy. Below is the exercise being referenced:
Once the patient can perform the Rotation Range of Motion exercise, I’ll start to introduce strengthening exercises. It is well understood that neck pain will inhibit, or “turn off,” neck muscles. Therefore, those with neck pain will benefit from activating and strengthening the neck. To kick off neck strengthening on the NecksLevel device, I like to start with two specific exercises that I’ve found to be easy to perform, and effective right from the start. The first one is Rotation Strengthening. This is the exact same movement as the Rotation Range of Motion exercise, except there is now resistance. I’m big on having the user maintain a chin tuck, and move through a comfortable range of motion. Here’s the video:
The third, and final exercise I’ll usually perform with my patients on Day 1 is Isometrics. I love getting the patient going on NecksLevel Isometrics early on in their program because it trains the user in a neutral neck position. Always assure a chin tuck is maintained throughout the exercise. Isometrics here seem to have an awareness-inducing effect on patients, where they are often better able to put themselves in an ideal sitting posture during their daily life. I can’t explain the exact mechanisms, but strengthening the neck via NecksLevel Isometric holds with a chin tuck seems to ingrain a favorable posture that patients can return to after the exercise is over. Check it out below:
That’s all there is to it. 3 simple exercises on the NecksLevel device will put the patient well on their way to recovery. But where do I go from here? What about Day 2 and beyond? Check out my article on progressing patients with the NecksLevel device.
To wrap it all up for you, we made a detailed 3-minute video highlighting the three exercises I’ve shared with you:
Author: Scott Dickenson, PT, DPT, ATC
Inventor - The NecksLevel Device