How Can Physiotherapy Help with Improving Your Cervical Extension

What is normal cervical extension? Take this test.

Can you look up at the ceiling pain free? In today’s SFMA session we were looking at cervical extension movement. In other words can you tilt your chin up towards the ceiling, as far as 80° of extension if we are looking at the plane of the face from the forehead to the chin? This is considered normal range.

Our assessment of this region includes the upper neck where the head joins the neck and the first two or three levels there, which we assessed in supine. As well as the mid-cervical area which we assessed in supine. The lower cervical and upper back, as far down as T6 may also affect cervical extension. And given we are talking about the thoracic spine, we also need to include assessment of the ribs and their joints to the spine and sternum.

Vancouver physiotherapists Travis and Sam collaborating on an assessment technique.
Physiotherapists Travis and Sam collaborating on an assessment technique.

How Can Physiotherapy Help with Improving Your Cervical Extension?

Today’s session was especially cool for me, because I had some stiffness in the neck that we were able to assess and treat. Initially my neck extension was restricted in standing and in supine which we measured at 63°. We used a mobilization with movement technique in sitting to provide pain-free feedback at the level of two restricted joints in the lower neck which we found on the left hand side. After about 10 minutes of assessment and only 2 minutes of treatment neck range of motion improved to 85°. Along with this improvement in neck extension, rotation also improved by about 20 to 30% and was far more comfortable than it has been in a few weeks!

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