Torticollis is a condition that is characterized by a twist of the chin to one side and the head to the other. Torticollis is also known by certain other names like wry neck and dystonia. In babies, it is caused when the neck muscles shorten and tighten and therefore, the normal growth is compromised. What will happen as a result is that a baby (or any individual who suffers from this condition for that matter) will hold the neck on one side, while his mouth and chin will be on the other. Not only does this look abnormal, but if left untreated, can result in deformities that affect the motor activities. The reason for why this happens is because there is acute pain in the neck when it is straightened. Thus, the person tends to keep it in one position on the sides.
Torticollis in infants will develop while they are in the womb because of their placement (congenital torticollis). When the child is born, it will maintain a tilted angle of looking at things. This results in vision problems as well as an inability to crawl at the normal age. Therefore, the normal growth and development of the child is compromised. Though this condition is usually genetic, it can also be caused as a result of damage to the nervous system or the muscles. The way in which this condition is dealt with is if certain specialized torticollis exercises are undertaken. These will allow for the strengthening of the neck muscles and prevent further damage. In the following sections, we will study some of the exercises that can be undertaken to deal with this condition effectively.
Exercises for Toddlers
Exercise # 1
- Place the baby on its back and place your right hand on its chest while the left hand is placed on the side of its face.
- Slowly push the head to its left till the chin has touched the shoulders.
- Be absolutely careful while doing these torticollis exercises for babies.
- Let the head be in this position for 10 seconds.
- Release and bring the head back in the center.
- Switch the hands and this time repeat the same exercise with the left hand on the chest and the right on the side of the face.
Exercise # 2
- This exercise is targeted at improving the side to side range of motion of the child.
- Place the child on its back and place your right hand on the baby so that it covers the shoulder and chest area.
- This is done so that the baby cannot move.
- Place the left hand over the baby’s head, covering it.
- Now, tilt the head to the right side so that the ear touches the shoulder.
- Hold in position for 10 seconds.
- Bring the head back to the center.
- Switch hands and repeat the same exercise on the other side.
These exercises should be carried through at least 5 times a day. These will help strengthen the neck and lead to an improvement in the motor actions. Other than the exercises mentioned above, one can also undertake some other ways by which the child will learn to use its neck more and motor development will take place like so. These include encouraging the child to play on its side. In this way, the gravity works well to correct the neck ailment. Place the child on its stomach so that it looks down, this will help improve this condition as well.
Exercises for Adults
This condition is easier to treat in children than it is in adults. Yet, there is one important exercise that can be undertaken. Place a heat pad on the neck for 10 minutes so that the blood flows to the area. This will allow you to carry forth the rest of the exercise well enough. Gently push your chin to the neutral position. This might hurt, but continue to do it gently. Now, slowly lift your head from the side and try to bring it in the center. With time the condition will improve.
It is said that certain neck strengthening exercises help to deal with the pain that ensues due to this condition. But, it is always recommended that one consult a doctor and learn certain specialized exercises that are meant for this condition. Understanding the condition of this health form is important before recommending exercises for the same. Given below are two neck strengthening exercises that can help strengthen the neck.
Exercise # 1
- Arrange for a stiff pillow and lie sideways on it.
- The neck and body should be aligned sideways along with the hips and shoulders.
- Push your head straight into the pillow. Be absolutely gentle about it.
- Make sure that the head does not move.
- Do this for 5 seconds and then turn over to the opposite side and do the same.
- With passage of time, increase the pressure that you apply to your head.
Exercise # 2
- Lie on your back on the bed and let your head dangle from the edge.
- Slowly lift your head up and then slowly take it down again.
- Do this a couple of times but make sure that you do not strain yourself.
- Now, lay on your stomach and let your head dangle from the edge.
- Lift it up and slowly bring it down again.
- Do this a couple of times.
Torticollis exercises is one of the best ways of treating this condition well in time. Do not ignore this condition and make sure that you bring these exercises into play as soon as possible.