Quick Home Test for the Cervical Spine

It is a reality of human nature that we all tend to be reactive rather than proactive in most aspects of our lives. We wait for things to get bad enough that circumstances force things to come to our attention before we do anything about them. This is very true when it comes to our health. Most people wait for their pain to reach the level that it begins to affect their lives before they go to the chiropractor. At that point, it takes a bit more care to get them back to where they want to be than if they had not waited.

Focusing on the neck for today, one simple test consisting of a series of movements can help reveal if underlying issues are present. This test comes from the Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA) system. These are a set of seven movement tests that stress the body in subtle ways so as to reveal patterns of dysfunction before symptoms begin.

The movements for the neck test sound fairly simple and yet it is surprising how many people cannot perform this test. A failure of a particular movement would be 1) pain with that movement or 2) inability to perform the movement properly-which entails not being able to complete the motion to its endpoint or completing the motion to its endpoint but with significant effort.

Brace yourself with a wall or railing if you think you might lose your balance (which is actually another indicator, but we’ll leave that for another blog post). See if you can do this at home:

  • Standing looking straight ahead bring your chin down to touch your chest.
  • Extend your head back so that you are looking up at the ceiling. You should be able to get your face within 10° of level with the floor without having to bend at your mid back.
  • Turn your head to the left and bring chin down to touch your collar bone on the left.
  • Turn your head to the right and bring your chin down to touch your collarbone on the right.

How did you do? It sounds simple. And yet, I’m surprised by how many people cannot complete these motions smoothly and painlessly. If this is you, make an appointment. Let’s get your neck checked out and the motion restored before the limitations of movement begin to result in pain and dysfunction.