Does No Neck Flexion = No Training

…………I have a question regarding Core training without manual therapy to the neck. If someone is unable to get there chin to chest with teeth together is there a point in training “core stability”? In other words, if the client is unable to pack their neck and maintain the position during exercise, is there a point in training without addressing the neck first?



Image courtesy of TPI Medical Level 3 Manual

First things first, you will appreciate getting to this pattern in 2 ways.
1) is if they are already in pain, and the assumption is that they are or will be evaluated by a medical professional.  This cervical flexion pattern is one of the Top Tier of the SMFA.  If you are not a capably trained professional, you are not messing with the SMFA.  My DVD, Training = Rehab, Rehab = Training, opens a small window into the SFMA with Restrictor Plates with tremendous environmental caveats.
2) is if Shoulder Mobilty is the weakest link in the FMS.  Looking at the same cervical patterns in the SFMA is the 1st deeper screen for Shoulder Mobility in the FMS.  But again if you get to a dysfunction or pain through that route, the kick to a capable professional is mandatory.

Now if the thought is begged that there might be a lot of DNs and DPs in cervical movement that don’t get caught in the FMS, you are absolutely right.
The assumption, and it is nothing more than that as far as I’m concerned, is that it will get caught somewhere else, and it will likely be a stability issue that is trained through a different weak link.  You may never know if this was a problem or if training something like Rotary Stabilty fixed it when there is no test-retest.
So it’s an interesting drawback to the FMS, but while I have no data to support this, I have to believe it all comes out in the wash.  Maybe this is where something like “asymmetrical 2s or 3s” come into the mix after all else is trained out, and you get to the neck through this route.  But then again, that is a type of training environment that is pretty much fantasyland, and there is probably not a huge remand for everybody to be 100% perfect to be a beast.
But with all that hedging, I do think the neck should be on a swivel to be as much of a beast as possible.  It’s a contradictory message, but because messing with the neck is so tenuous, we should err on the side of caution and reasonable efficiencies.
I do train and rehab in a fantasyland and have for almost all of my professional career.  So while not everybody has the environment or skills to get to all of this all the time, I think my Packing the Neck article gives you some real reasons why we need this level of cervical mobility.

Remember this tool? Still probably not packing the neck during swings.But how cool would it be if he actually saw his picture on this site?

So what do you do about all of this?
I would suggest to first try to find a position, likely working with some form of scapular stability and thoracic extension, where the neck gets to a desirable “neutral” position. Even propping up the neck to support the loss of cervical extension is very acceptable.
Loading with a quadruped position or banded shoulder extension through one of both arms may provide the freedom for the neck to explore it’s mobility.  Pulling the arms apart behind the back or in front can centrate the scapulae.  Overhead hanging or loading at different ranges can centrate the scaps and/or t-spine and free up the neck.
Some more ideas are in this sister article.
Please don’t press your luck here.  Be careful.  Don’t be a hero.  And don’t be disappointed if you need to tap out and need help.

Press your luck, but you'll have to avoid the WHAMMY!!!!!

Ok, so to directly answer your question, yes, there is a point to training stability elsewhere as long as you run it in parallel with some effort to 1) establish if the cervical issue is mobility or stability, and 2) it does not worsen the cervical tone.

Sometimes the stability elsewhere will release the neck as I mentioned above.
Just know the rules before you break the rules.

The message isn’t necessarily that you are totally screwed if your neck is off, but you are ALWAYS @ best leaving something on the table if you do not access the core pendulum through the neck.

  • May 1, 2011

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