Self Care – Tuck, Tilt, Turn and Lift – Retraining Your Forward-Head Posture

This is a key exercise for Forward-Head Posture and Thoracic Outlet problems like swollen hands in the morning. It will reveal stiffness and pain that will help you be more specific in understanding and targeting your neck problem with self-care.

This series of stretches helps you sleep if you do it before bed. It offers relief from tension after you’ve been working at a desk or driving for a while. If you do it 1-3 times a day, you’ll see nice progress in correcting your Forward-Head Posture. Do it gently, using the guidelines for AIS. It is even faster and more effective if you use the Ice-and-Stretch approach.

Put your back against the wall. Make sure that your hips are against the wall as well.

Take note of the tension. It will almost always reveal a trigger point pattern just because you straightened up more than you do naturally. Look here if you’d like to find out which trigger point creates your pain / tension.

Trap your arms behind your back so that your shoulders are stabilized and your collar bones are as close to level as possible.

Lift and Tuck. There is a little bump at the base of your head in the back near the bottom of your hair line. Lift it toward the ceiling so that your chin tucks and head moves back to touch the wall.

Keep your chin down.

If you can’t touch the wall without great difficulty, use the AIS guidelines, pressing up and back to the point of light tension and holding it for 1.5 seconds. Do 10, reps or more. Ice-and-Stretch will make this easier and progress much faster, if you have some ice available.

You can do this several times a day without getting sore, and you’ll make faster progress.

Again, take note of the change in pain / tension. Where does it pull? Where does it hurt? Use this to look through these posts and target the problem.

If you are doing this in a chair, lift until your head is back over your hips. Using a mirror will help you to stay aware of balancing your movement.

Lift and Tuck
until you can touch the wall
with your chin down
before going on to the next step.

Many self-care routines simply have you do this and hold it for 90 seconds or do it 10 times, holding for 1.5 seconds each time. This uses reciprocal inhibition to release tight muscles in your neck and strengthen the weak ones. It will be more effective and make faster progress toward good posture if we do a few more things.

Tilt while Tucked. Gently tilt to one side until you feel lightly restricted. Lift your head up and away from your body as you tilt. It usually feels stiffer when you have tucked first.

Keep your chin down.

Do this 20 times using the guidelines of AIS or use the Ice-and-Stretch approach. Ice-and-Stretch will be much faster and more effective for all the stretches in this post.

Again, take note of the change in pain / tension.

Do the other side.

Turn while Tucked. keeping your head close to the wall, turn as far as you can toward the shoulder without letting the other shoulder come off the wall. Do this to the point of light tension.

Keep your chin down.

Again, do this 20 times or us the Ice-and-Stretch method.

Again, take note of the change in pain / tension. Take a look at the posts on stiff neck for help if you’d like to further target the problem.

Do the other side.

With your head turned, lift your chin. This is usually much more restricted and makes it difficult to stay turned while lifting.

Keep you chin as close to the wall as possible, which is usually quite difficult.

Again, do this 20 times or use the Ice-and-Stretch method.

Again, take note of the change in pain / tension.

Do the other side.

If you’ve noticed any stiffness or pain that remains after this series of stretches, you can look them up for more specific treatment. These posts explore trigger points related to stiff neck but you might also check posts on cervicogenic headaches, or post about pain that radiates from your torso into your arm.

This post has more ideas about taking care of your Forward Head Posture. It includes changes in your desk ergonomics, activities to change/avoid, other exercises and accessories that may help.

This site is undergoing changes. Starting in early 2020, we began changing the format of the posts to include more extensive self-care, illustrations, therapist notes, anatomy, and protocols. We’d love your feedback. We are adding posts and converting the old posts as quickly as time permits.

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We spend a lot of time reading and working on our computers. Here is a simple guide for the more active, athletic body and one that needs more support. There are also suggestions for accessories that make your days at work (and afterward) more comfortable.

Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia where he sees clients. He has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points and cranial therapies since the mid-90s.

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