Proper movement patterns in our neck are one of the primary movement patterns in our body. Because many of our movements follow our eyes and head, if our neck is not moving correctly many other movement patterns can be affected. Poor neck movement may cause problems in the neck itself, but may also influence other areas of the body such as the shoulders, the entire spine, and even our lower extremities.
Proper neck movement should be pain free. Full neck flexion consists of bringing your chin down and easily touching your sternum. Extension consists of tilting your head back. You should be able to get with in 10 degrees of parallel.
Neck rotation consists of turning to the side. You should be able to easily reach your chin to the middle of your collarbone.
If you are unable able to do these motions easily or have pain, then you may be experiencing a cervical movement pattern dysfunction. This may present as neck and shoulder pain, or not be presenting as pain yet. Further assessment can determine if you have a mobility limitation, that stretching or joint mobility work will help, or a motor control problem that movement training will help.
Neck mobility is easy to check, and generally easy to return to proper function. So keep an eye on it and avoid problems down the road.