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Look up, down, turn your head and bend your ear to your shoulder

Posted Dec 16 2009 12:00am
Testing cervical range of motion You should be able to move your head and neck in certain positions. You may hear this at your next Dr's Appt during your physical exam: Look up, down, turn your head and bend your ear to your shoulder- if you are able to do all of these with no pain, then chances are your cervical spine range of motion is pretty good.

Your range of motion is the degree to which that area of the body moves. Today I want to focus on the the neck. The ranges of motion that are measured are: flexion, extension, right lateral flexion, left lateral flexion, right rotation, and left rotation.

Flexion is the movement of the head and neck toward the chest; touching the chin down. Extension is to tilt your head back, as if looking at the ceiling. Lateral flexion is tilting the head to the side. For right lateral flexion, bring your right ear toward your shoulder. Do not move your shoulder, only move your head and neck. Rotation of the neck is turning your head. Do not turn your whole body, only turn your head to the side.

The normal ranges of motion for the neck are as follows:
  • Flexion: 45-90 degrees
  • Extension: 55-70 degrees
  • Right/Left Lateral Flexion: 20-45 degrees
  • Right/Left Rotation: 70-90 degrees.


Your doctor may examine these ranges to assess your cervical spine. An injury such as whiplash or muscle sprain will often inhibit your normal movement and cause pain when moving or at the end range. Your end range refers to the end point which you can flex, extend, laterally flex, or rotate to.

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