Reversing Chicken Neck with Qigong

Topics: Qigong

by Tai Chi Master Bruce Frantzis

Chicken Neck‘Chicken Neck’ Photo by zoetnet

It is common these days to see people who have what I call ‘chicken neck’ or what some others affectionately call ‘geek neck’. Make no mistake though, chicken neck is no laughing matter.

Many people are often in front of computer screens for 6-10 hours at a time with poor posture, and a problem can develop with the chin consistently jutting forward. Bill Gates when he was young, for example, had a very prominent geek neck. If you have a neck where your head is sticking way out, it is most likely compressing the vertebrae in the back of your neck and is blocking the energy flow going from your spine to your head.

Most medical issues, all problems with your body, basically come down to one of two sources:

  1. Genetics, something that you were born with in your body structure, or
  2. Environment, something external did it to you or you did to yourself.

Causes of Chicken Neck

BillgatesandPaul AllenPaul Allen on a teletype terminal w/ Bill Gates Photo by: Time Mag

There can be many causes of chicken neck and often it takes many years to develop. Maybe you were in a bad position when you came out of your mother’s womb or had a really bad birth trauma that affected the neck as your head was going across the spinal vertebrae.

Maybe when you were younger you had horrible vision and had those really big glasses. This might have caused you to stick your head forward in order to be able to read whatever it was you were reading.

For many, the most likely source is spending a lot of time on a computer or in a office job at a desk. Most people are not conscious of their posture. They habitually lean forward and over time this brings the body out of alignment (see posture of Paul Allen above).

Poor Desktop postureThere are many potential causes but whatever the cause I think the only rational thing to do is to look at what is possible to reverse geek or chicken neck, allowing the body to go back into its natural balanced state.

Reversing Chicken Neck

I will start by saying that if your posture has developed over many years it is not going to change overnight. You are going to have to develop a new set of habits to reprogram your body. The Taoists of old did not have computers, but they had a similar profession in writing Chinese characters, where scribes would write hundreds and thousands of characters while sitting at a desk.

There are three qigong practices that I teach that are very useful in terms of fixing/correcting a chicken neck.

The first one is Bend the Bow Qigong, which very specifically teaches you how to control the spinal vertebrae and the neck vertebrae or part of your spinal vertebrae. Bend the Bow Qigong teaches you how to effectively get your head repositioned on your skull and trains your nervous system so that your body can remember its healthy posture.

Very often people with geek necks have treatments with chiropractors, osteopaths and all sorts of body workers. However, even though they have these treatments, they don’t quite get rid of their chicken neck because they don’t actually change the signal at the pure neurological level of what is causing their body to revert to the chicken neck. I would say that Bend the Bow gets you to the place where you learn how to correct the vertebrae in your neck.

The second practice I teach that is very useful is Gods Playing in the Clouds Qigong because it allows the neck its entire range of motion.

You can learn to stabilize your neck in Heaven and Earth Qigong. The movements in Heaven and Earth Qigong are something which can prepare the spine and the neck for being able to receive what Bend the Bow can do.

In closing, simply being conscious of your posture is essential. Developing good posture is important in keeping your energy channels clear so chi can flow unblocked as you develop more chi and go deeper in your meditation practices.  Often the problems people have in meditation are due to their posture being incorrect, causing chi blockages in the body.

This is why the Taoists in China always started with Tai chi and qigong before they entered meditaion, so the body can be prepared for the energetics of their meditation.

My hope is that some of the practices described here can be helpful to you or to those around you in reversing chicken neck. I welcome your feedback and comments.

Stay good,

Bruce

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

tobias January 12, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Hi Bruce,I do also have problems with my neck for years…what do you recomment than?
Practice “Marriage of H&E” until the next course in “Bend the Bow” is held (in germany)- or do you have any DVD with either “Bthe B” or “Gods playing in the Clouds” ? Thanks for an answer, Tobias

[Reply]

Amy January 13, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Hello Bruce~I have been doing “Heaven and Earth” and “Gods playing. . ” for a few years now, and discovered in the course of it the truth of what you said. No matter how strong I may feel when I use energy to shift shape, it is nothing to the power shape has to shift me. But I am strangely capable of forgetting this, and your post was a gift reminding me to get straight before I get strong.
Thanks.

[Reply]

Ricardo Hercules January 13, 2011 at 3:22 pm

valeu! Bruce muito bom, excelente. Ricardo Hercules.

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jane January 15, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Hi Bruce, thanks for the reminder. Easy to sit my geek neck in front of the PC for far too long, doing displacement activities when I should really go and do some practice… Talking of displacement activities, I will share the original definition of geek, which takes most people by surprise: ‘Geek’ – A person who swallows live animals, bugs, etc., as a form of entertainment at fairs and circuses. This often included biting the heads off of chickens. Perhaps that’s another reason why it’s also called chicken neck!

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Michael Blackman DC December 17, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Nice article with relevant comments and good fotos and illustration! WIth 35 years experience and countless post graduate studies as a Chiropractor,. I can add that the neck extensor muscles are under-trained in most people. Typical of most gyms, where i work out, there is no machine for the neck. I have bought a closet full of devices for training the neck but nothing works as well as an under-inflated ball, like we had in school to play dodge ball. SImply seated with your back to a wall, about a foot away, extending the neck backward into the ball, as it rolls against the wall. Starting with chin parallel to the floor and ending looking up at the ceiling. Repeating slowly until tired, but without counting. You should feel the muscles between your shoulders if you are doing the exercize correctly. Don’t forget your breathing. Frequently, i add repetitions unilaterally, extending obliquely, on the opposing side of blokkade, because neurological reciprocal inhibition enhances the exercise. I have used this with thousand of patients with great results. Cheers

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