Strengthen your deep neck flexors

Are you aware that your head weighs about 6–8kg? In today’s exercise video, physiotherapist Jason Lee shows you how to strengthen your neck to help carry that weight.

Jason Lee is a graduate of the University of Melbourne. He enjoys treating a variety of musculoskeletal conditions and has developed an interest in spinal pain and headaches. He is a hands-on physio who utilises manual therapy, soft tissue therapy and dry needling. He is also a strong advocate for exercise therapy and runs strength training classes and clinical Pilates. Outside of work, Jason enjoys keeping active and is a keen surfer and basketballer.

Malvern East Physio

As Jason mentions in the video, these exercises should not be painful. If any pain occurs stop immediately and contact a healthcare professional. 

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So, just a bit of trivia before we do anything. How heavy do you think the average head is?

Five kilos? 10? 50? I know there’s a big head on the photo but not that heavy.

Any other guesses? Three? Six?

Six. So, the average human head, roughly, is between 6–8 kilograms.

So it’s a pretty stocky item, that’s basically two really heavy milk bottles.

I don’t know about you but I’m not very strong and I certainly can’t hold up 6–8 kilograms all day every day without getting pretty tired.

But fortunately, we do have quite small muscles at the base of our neck, spine and head, which are designed to contract all day for long periods of time.

So this exercise we are about to all run through is a fantastic exercise to really try and wake up those muscles if they’ve been asleep, or strengthen them if they’re getting a bit tired or we need to build some endurance into them.

All of these exercises should be totally pain free, so if anything does hurt of course stop straight away and speak to a healthcare professional.

Before we all start, pens and papers down because we’re all going to do this.

The first exercise we come to is up on the screen and it’s what we call a chin tuck.

What I want you to do is sit with good posture.

As a starting point, I did say I wasn’t going to judge before, but everyone feet flat, chest up, head up.

Now, keeping your eyes focused on the front of the room I want you to imagine someone’s about to hit you in the face with something. (I won’t do it, okay)

But what we’re going to do is try to tuck and avoid it.

So keeping your eyes fixed forwards, we’re going to draw our chin straight back to almost give yourself a double chin.

Hold for a few seconds, and relax. 

Really importantly, we’re not looking for a big nodding motion, it’s just a gentle nod to give yourself a double chin.

Let’s try that again – so just looking forwards for me again, drag the chin back, hold for one or two seconds, and relax.

It’s as simple as that. So all of us in the room have just worked our deep neck flexors.

So they’re those small muscles at the base of the skull and they’re going to hold up your 6–8 kilograms.

What are we going to do with it? Often I suggest trying to do four or five of them in a row, okay, hold each one maybe two or three seconds.

Standing, sitting, even lying down if you want to – it doesn’t really matter – but as long as we try to do them maybe two or three times a day we’ll be fantastic.

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Exercises to strengthen neck and back muscles
Five best core exercises
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Written by Jason Lee

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