Video Transcript:

Hi, I’m Dr. Byron Mackay. And today we will be focusing on thumb tracing, thumb tracking, or posterior lateral tracking, which is a fantastic exercise to really work on the neck, cervical curve. 

We largely form cervical curves, neck curves when we’re babies and we’re doing tummy time. So we’re on our stomach and we’re tracking people that are walking past us. So that motion of tracking diagonally upwards is actually really powerful to help reform some of that natural cervical curve. 

It’s also a great exercise to really help with the SCM muscles, with the upper trapezius muscles, with the suboccipital muscles and to help rehab some of the rotator cuff muscles and a really powerful neurological exercise. 

So to do this exercise, we are going to track our thumb. So I’m going to look at my nail bed. I’m going to put my hand out in front of me.

An important point here is that when we’re putting our hand out, we want our hand roughly at nose or eye level. We don’t want our hand down here so that we are flexing down, which causes us to lose that natural neck curvature. 

So again, hand at eye level, I’m going to be going diagonally up over my shoulder with my hand. So it looks like this. I’m looking at my nail bed again, and I’m going diagonally up like this. My eyes are tracking my nail bed the entire time. 

So I come back, I go up again and I’m tracking my nail bed. My head is rotating, but my shoulder’s moving and my whole torso’s moving. So again, I’m going up like this diagonally over this side, and then I’m coming back. 

I’m going to that side five times, then I’m switching sides. So I’m going to put my other hand up again at eye nose level, looking at my nail bed, and I’m going to go diagonally up over my shoulder.

And my eyes are tracking my thumb, tracking my nail bed. That’s why they call it thumb tracing or posterior lateral tracing. And do it five times again on this side, once I’ve done five times, then I’m going to switch sides again. I’m going to aim to do five repetitions per side, two sets per side. Ideally twice per day. 

Once you’ve been doing the posterolateral tracing for several weeks, you can stop using your hand and just rotate your neck so you can rotate it with your eyes looking into the corner of the room. So my head goes up. I rotate to look to the corner of the room, and then I do that again. And again, I’m going to aim for five to 10 times, because this is a little bit faster. 

Again, I’m rotating my head up. So I’m going into rotation plus some extension. And once I’ve done that I would switch sides. I would do the same thing, rotating the opposite way. Looking over my shoulder into the corner of the room with my eyes. If you have any questions about any of this, please ask.

What is the Neck Curve Correction exercise?

This exercise is designed to mimic some of the natural neck movements that help to form a healthy lordotic neck curvature. If done consistently, it will help to restore some of the natural neck curvature, and help to maintain proper neck movement.

Neck Curve Correction Instructions:

  • Step 1

    To begin the neck curve restoration, put one of your arms out in front of you, with your thumb pointing upwards, facing you. A key is to make sure your hand is at your nose or eye level, not lower down.

  • Step 2

    Focus on the nail bed of your thumb with your eyes.

  • Step 3

    Move your arm/hand diagonally backwards and up over your one shoulder, slowly, all the while tracking the movement of your thumb nail bed with your eyes. Allow your torso and shoulder to move backwards as your arm moves.

  • Step 4

    This movement, called posterolateral tracing, is a powerful movement for restoring the cervical curve or neck curve, but also beneficial for your SCM and suboccipital muscles.

  • Step 5

    Once at your end range, return your arm and back to the starting position, following your nail bed the entire time of the return. Ensure your hand stays at eye/nose level. That is one repetition.

  • Step 6

    Perform five repetitions per side of the neck curve correction exercise, ideally two sets on each side. Do this twice per day, every day.

  • Step 7

    After several weeks of the neck curve exercises, you can stop using your arm/nail bed to track, and simply rotate your head diagonally upwards over your shoulder, with your eyes looking at the upper corner of the room. Repeat 5-10 repetitions of this movement, for two sets, ideally twice per day.

  • Step 8

    If this neck curve restorer exercise is painful, please stop, as some modification may be required.

  • Step 9

    For more videos on neck exercises and stretches, please refer to the Neck Retraction exercise video, the SCM Stretch video and the Neck Stretches Compilation video.

Read More About Neck Curve Correction Below

In this video, we demonstrate a great neck curve correction exercise designed specifically for cervical curve restoration.

This cervical curve correction exercise is based on posterolateral tracing using the eyes, which is designed to mimic the mechanism by which infants doing tummy time acquire the neck curvature or cervical lordosis.

Military neck exercises like this, or even kyphotic neck exercises, are increasingly  necessary as so many people spend extended time seated, particularly staring down at computers or smart phones.

A recent study demonstrated that the average person now spends on average up to four hours per day on their smart phone, much of this time spent with a flexed military neck or kyphotic neck posture.

As with any exercise, neck curve exercises like this one require time, repetition and patience.

For best results, repeat this neck exercise twice daily. Aim for five repetitions per side, performing two sets per side.

A key point to ensure best results with this neck curve restorer exercise is to ensure that the starting point with your thumb is at nose or eye level, not lower down, resulting in forward bending or flexion of your neck, which is counterproductive to the exercise. We want your neck at neutral position to begin the exercise.

Follow the exercise instructions, and if at any point you experience any neck pain, please reduce your neck range of motion, or discontinue the movement altogether.

For more videos on neck exercises and stretches, please refer to the Neck Retraction exercise video, the SCM Stretch video and the Neck Stretches Compilation video.

Any questions, please ask.

For further neck correction exercises and stretches, please refer to our neck pain Toronto condition page here:

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