Swimmers see what needs to be seen in the cervical spine

Pain in the cervical spine, neck and shoulder

(Med .: acute torticollis [wry neck], vertebral blockage)

When you turn or tilt your head, many muscles are at work. The vertebral bodies of the cervical spine and the upper thoracic spine rotate or incline towards each other so that the desired movement is possible. The sequence of movements is secured by the surrounding joint capsules of the small vertebral joints, the stabilizing ligaments and the muscles.

Whenever there are disturbances in this movement system, mobility can also be restricted. In the event of acute pain, you will immediately notice which direction of movement is restricted. If this happens very slowly, e.g. in old age, it is usually not consciously perceived.


If the cervical spine is restricted in movement, it is referred to as stiffness. If there is also painful muscle tension, one speaks of a painful restriction of movement.

In acute vertebral blockage, mobility to one side is greatly reduced because of the pain, and the head can be turned more easily to the other side. Sometimes individual painful points can be felt when there is a blockage on the side of the neck.

Self check

Sit in a chair so that your torso is straight and slowly turn your head to the right once as if to look back. The starting position, looking straight ahead, corresponds to the zero position. With very good mobility, you can turn your head so far that you can look exactly to the side, this corresponds to the position at 80 to 90 degrees. You can perform the same test on the other side. If there are noticeable differences between the movement to the right and to the left or the mobility in turning is less than 75 degrees (the chin should be able to be turned so that it is further to the side than the nipple when viewed from above) it is a movement restriction. However, a slight difference between the pages is normal.

You can do the same test gently for tilting your head sideways. A movement of 25 degrees should be possible on both sides, 30 degrees for forward tilting and 50 degrees for backward tilting (especially please try this movement slowly and with caution).

Possible causes

In order to better understand the causes of the restricted mobility, it is first important to consider how the restricted mobility came about and whether there is also pain. In the case of unilateral muscle tension (see Chapter 1), e.g. B. caused by overloading the muscle, wind or exposure to cold, the stretching and twisting of the inflamed muscle can be painful, so that this results in a restriction of movement. However, the pain usually subsides after the muscle is stretched or relaxed. When the small vertebral joints that transmit movement from one vertebral body to the next are blocked, the pain is triggered by small muscles that attach directly to the spine. The deep-seated muscles can hardly be felt from the outside, but they allow fine control of our movement. B. cramped by a clumsy movement or lying at night. The acute blockage itself can only be resolved by a doctor with special training (chiropractor, manual therapist or osteopath).

Sometimes, however, muscle-relaxing treatments succeed in relaxing the cervical spine so much that the blockage can resolve itself after a while.

Exercises to help yourself with pain in the cervical spine, neck or shoulder

You can relax the superficial muscle parts through exercises and the application of heat, in addition, you can add special movement exercises in case of blockages, which allow a slow release of the blockage