The neck is made up of the following:

  • 7 cervical vertebrae
  • Intervertebral discs
  • Spinal cord and nerves
  • Ligaments
  • Muscles

The term cervical spine refers to the cervical vertebrae, spinal cord, nerves and interveterbral discs. The cervical spine is surrounded by ligaments and muscles that help hold our head up and support our neck whenever we move.

*Click on the images below to view the muscles of the neck.

Major muscles of the neck, categorized by function:

  • Flexion (think chin down): sternocleidomastoid (SCM) and deep neck flexors.
  • Extension (think chin up): upper trapezius, splenius capitis and semispinalis capitis.
  • Rotation (think looking left/right): sternocleidomastoid.
  • Sidebend (think ear to shoulder): sternocleidomastoid.

The deep neck flexors are important in maintaining good posture. Just like the small/large muscle competitions in the shoulder, hip and abdominals, the deep neck flexors become overpowered by the SCM when your head is in a forward position.

Poor posture also places a large amount of unnecessary forces on your cervical spine, so be nice to your neck and sit up tall!

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