Recruitment of the deep cervical flexor muscles during a postural-correction exercise performed in sitting

Deborah Falla, Shaun O'Leary, Amy Fagan, Gwendolen Jull

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Citations (Scopus)


Specific strategies to optimally facilitate postural muscles to retrain postural form are advocated in the clinical management of neck pain. The purpose of this study was to compare the activation of selected cervical, thoracic and lumbar muscles during independent and facilitated postural correction in sitting in 10 subjects with chronic neck pain. Deep cervical flexor (DCF) muscle activity was recorded with custom electrodes inserted via the nose and fixed by suction to the posterior mucosa of the oropharynx. Surface electrodes were placed over the thoracic erector spinae and lumbar multifidus muscles. Root-mean-square EMG amplitude was measured for each muscle across two conditions. In the first condition, subjects were instructed to spontaneously "sit up straight" from a slumped posture without any other guidance from the therapist. In the second condition the therapist provided specific manual and verbal facilitation to assist the patient to correct to an upright pelvic position with a neutral spinal lumbo-pelvic position. Activation of the DCF and lumbar multifidus muscles (P<0.05) were significantly greater when the therapist facilitated postural correction compared to independent sitting correction. Specific postural-correction strategies result in better facilitation of key postural muscles compared to non-specific postural advice. The results of this study highlight the need for clinical skill and precision in postural training of patients with neck pain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-43
Number of pages5
JournalManual Therapy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2007


  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cohort Studies
  • Electromyography
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Neck Pain
  • Pain Measurement
  • Posture
  • Probability
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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