ES and cervical spine imbalance?

Prior to getting diagnosed, as many have, I was constantly in PT. I heard it all…subluxed facets, instability, tightness, etc. I faithfully did the exercises but when I tried to progress, things got ugly. This is a common occurrence here.

Now, post op my PTs are telling me still that my cervical ligaments are tight and I’ve begun the strengthening exercises again (mostly just chin tucks). I can tell the left (removed) side is weaker and muscles don’t “engage” like the right side.

Can some of you brilliant folks enlighten me with thoughts on the possible connection between cervical muscle imbalance and ES?

I’m curious too if the exercises I did months ago pre-op were wasted efforts with the calcification I had and therefore may be more successful now?

I can’t say anything about muscle imbalance & ES, can only say that the chin tucks really helped me when I had a prolapsed cervical disc, before & after the ES surgery…hope the PT helps you more now than pre-op!


@Tjmhawk01 - You might try doing 5 chin tucks w/ a 5 second hold after each one then alternate w/ 5 neck extensions, holding 5 seconds between each one. Do both of these lying down on a firm surface like a carpeted floor. For the chin tucks tense the muscles on the front side of your neck but don’t tuck your chin any further than you would to hold an (invisible) orange under your chin. For the extensions, w/ your head in neutral, eyes facing the ceiling, gently press the back of your skull into the floor (a firm surface is better than a soft one), using the count mentioned above, then go back to chin tucks. You can do 3-5 cycles of these daily. If the extension work hurts, don’t press your head so firmly into the floor. Keep it light & gentle but feel the muscles at the back of your neck slightly contract when you do this. You can put your fingers on the back of your neck to feel them contract. It’s not unusual to feel that one side is stronger than the other even under normal conditions. It might also be an idea to ice your neck for a few min. after doing these exercises. Again, if ice creates more pain, try heat. You could even try heat before doing them to “loosen” the muscles before working them.


Very good advice- thank you!

I tried these exercises this evening. Thank you! So much easier for me to feel the right muscles contract than doing chin tucks while standing where I struggle to feel the right muscles or try not let my SCMs activate. Excellent!


Thank you for the detailed instructions, Isaiah. I am having a similar issue and did not know what to try next. Perfect timing!


I hope the exercises help you, too! You can also work on the lateral neck muscles by placing a flat hand against the side of your face (i.e. right hand to right face) & creating gentle resistance as you press your head into your hand for a count of five then repeat on the other side, etc.

With eagles chin tucks are bad because you’re driving the styloids into the ijv. Even without eagles you’re still wrapping the ijv around the c1 transverse process

Thank you for your input, @11bravo. Yes, true chin tucks are not a good idea w/ ES or vascular compression. What I suggested, & what I think we’ve been talking about aren’t true chin tucks, but are more an activation of the neck flexors w/o tucking the chin.

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