Since the "cervical syndrome" is a collective term for pain in the cervical spine, but does not represent a defined clinical picture, it is difficult to formulate uniform exercises. Depending on the symptom-causing structure, there are different approaches. The structure should first be defined in the physiotherapeutic treatment by a targeted diagnosis. However, there are typical causes of a cervical spine syndrome that can be improved quite quickly by simple exercises.

Short description of the disease

It should be emphasized in the near future that the cervical spine syndrome is a symptom description and not a definite diagnosis. The term cervical spine syndrome provides no information about affected structures or other causes of pain or malfunction in the region of the cervical spine.

Often, a cervical spondylosis syndrome occurs in people who work on the computer or constantly occupy a certain head position, for example. Especially harmful for the cervical spine is an increased protraction, which is accompanied by the advancement of the chin and thus an extension of the anterior cervical musculature and a compression of the upper cervical spine in the posterior region. The distance between the chin and throat dimples increases. If you have a cervical spine syndrome because you are often in this position, you should try to relieve the spine, to avoid this position in everyday life. There are simple exercises that counteract the protraction.

Description of the physiotherapeutic intervention (exercises)

First exercise

For the first exercise - the retraction - it makes sense initially to add a mirror for self-correction. The counter-movement to the protraction is carried out. The patient is standing straight or sitting upright in a chair. Looking ahead, he now moves his chin towards his neck, as if to make a double chin. The back of the head and the upper cervical spine stretch in length, the spine is erected. It is important that the movement comes only from the cervical spine and the upper body remains stable in the room.

This exercise can lead to a pull in the back, or even to radiation into the arms, this is not necessarily bad, as long as the symptoms do not deteriorate overall. (Consult with therapist!) The exercise can be done about 10 times in a row and if it is good, it can be repeated several times a day.

To intensify the effect of retraction, one can manually give a slight pressure at the end of the movement by one's own hands. To do this, place the space between the thumb and forefinger on the chin and keep the forearm as parallel to the ground as possible. Now, at the end of the active movement, gently push your chin backwards.

Second exercise

A similar exercise is more for strengthening than mobilizing the cervical spine, but may also be useful for cervical spine syndrome. The patient performs a retraction (as above) and can, for example, hold a towel as a resistance with his hands behind his head. The towel should be in constant contact with the back of the head and slightly taut. Now he executes the movement against a slight pressure. The repetition number does not change in comparison to exercise 1.

It is also possible with the towel at the end of the movement to build light pressure against the back of the head and hold it against the head of the tension. It comes to an isometric tension, that is, the muscles are trained without you seeing a movement. The final position is held for approx. 5-10 sec., Then the tension is released. The exercise can be repeated about 10 times.

It is important that the towel rests on the lower back of the head, not in the neck.

Third exercise

If the patient has symptoms of cervical syndrome even while driving, then this exercise is very well suited. You can take advantage of the headrest instead of the resistance of the towel. Hold the voltage for about 5-10 sec and then release again. The exercise can be repeated up to 10 times a day.

Fourth exercise

Another cause of a cervical spondylosis may also be poor posture of the arms / shoulders. In everyday life, we tend to work more and more in front of the body with our hands, while the shoulders move more and more forward. Tension and stress often lead to an unconscious, cramped pulling up of the shoulders. The shoulder and neck muscles become tight and begin to hurt.

Exercises to alleviate the symptoms start with gentle shoulders. In an upright position or standing, the patient lets the arms loose, hang down the side of the body and begins to circle with his shoulders. The best way to reverse circling is appropriate, because it comes to the cervical spine syndrome rather by a forward pulled attitude of the shoulders (protraction) and relieved by the Nachhintenkreisen the stressed structures. The circling can be carried out at the same time but also in alternation right and left one after the other.

Fifth exercise

Next you can train your own perception for a tense posture and detonate the musculature by a specific tightening of the shoulders and subsequent release. To do this, consciously pull the shoulders far to the ears, keep the tension for a few seconds, and then allow the exhale to sink the shoulders relaxed again and feel how the distance between ear and shoulder increases again. The exercise can be done about 10 times in a row.

To relax the neck muscles, which is often tense in the cervical spine syndrome, movement is very well suited. Often we take on unilateral attitudes in everyday life, which damage our muscles and our joints. The nutritional situation of the muscles is worsened by lack of exercise, it comes to muscle tension and painful movement restrictions or shortening of the muscles. For mobilization and detonation is the head circles. You tilt your head to one side, as if you had a telephone receiver between ear and shoulder, and then slowly and in a controlled manner, head over to the other side. At the end of the movement the position can be kept short. You may feel a slight stretch. The movement is performed calmly and in a controlled manner, no dizziness or pain (except the stretching pain) should occur. The gaze remains fixed during the exercise, the head is not laid back.

Sixth exercise

Another exercise in cervical spine syndrome, which also relaxes the neck muscles, is simple rotation. The patient is in an upright position or standing and looks over one shoulder as far as possible. Then the patient turns his head to the other side, without bending or bending, that is, the view runs on a parallel to the ground line to the other side. The view goes back as far as possible over the shoulder. The exercise is also performed slowly and in a controlled manner, it should not cause dizziness or pain. However, pulling (stretching pain) can occur. It is important that the shoulders remain straight during the whole exercise and do not move. The movement takes place in the cervical spine, the upper body remains stable.

Isometric exercises

An isometric exercise describes the muscular tension without a change in length of the muscles. It therefore means a contraction of the muscle without a noticeably strong change in the externally visible position. This form of muscle training is often used in posture training or relaxation exercises. A good example of isometric cervical spine exercises is explained below. The patient sits in a comfortable sitting position upright on a chair. Feet and knees are positioned parallel in shoulder width. Now the 6 movements in the cervical spine are carried out in succession for 10-15 seconds each.

In order to make the exercise isometric, the palm is then placed against the head as an obstacle to practicable movement. For example, the right hand stops the right cheek, for the right turn of the head. Thus, a tension of the muscle takes place, but the head always remains in the same position. It has been found that the side effects of this type of exercise result in less blood flow to the muscle during the exercise itself. As a result, the waste products of the muscle produced during the contraction, such as lactate, can not be sufficiently removed. Lactate is an acid and leads to muscle hardening due to hyperacidity when applied incorrectly. A consultation with the treating orthopedist is therefore recommended.

Stretching exercises in the cervical spine syndrome

Often a cervical spondylosis syndrome occurs in those people, for example, who work on the computer or constantly take a certain head position.

Stretching exercises are usually also part of the training program for the cervical spine syndrome. Classic stretching variants is the stretching of the Trapezius muscle .

The patient stands or sits on a chair and, with the upper body remaining stable, inclines his head as far as he can to the right shoulder. On the left side, the patient pulls his hand towards the floor to increase the stretching of the left neck muscles. It is important that the left shoulder keeps a large distance to the ear. The position is held for about 20 sec, it may be felt a pull, then as a variation of the strain of the head can be rotated carefully in the Seitneige, that is, the view is once downwards, or upwards. In most cases, the patient himself feels where an increased stretching pain occurs. He can then hold this position for another 20 seconds. Then the exercise is done on the other side. In order to achieve an effect during stretching exercises, they should be carried out daily once or twice over a longer period of time.


All suggested exercises are subject to prior agreement with the therapist. Especially in case of complaints, the exercise should be controlled. An individualized exercise program is dependent on the structure that causes the symptoms of cervical spine syndrome and needs to be tailored to the patient.

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