If you’re looking to improve your upper body posture or alleviate neck and upper back pain, you might already have heard of chin tucking. Although it may sound a little strange, chin tucking is an easy postural exercise with some amazing benefits!
In this fun and fast guide to chin tucking, I’m going to walk you through everything there is to know about chin tucking: what is it, does it work, and how do you get started?!
What Is Chin Tucking?
Chin tucking is a postural exercise that’s primarily designed to correct forward head posture (FHP). The exercise itself is extremely simple, and involves pushing your chin backwards into line with the rest of your body. I include a detailed, step-by-step guide to chin tucking later on in this article.
Chin tucking has been around for decades, but has only started gaining popularity in the last few years. Part of this is thanks to Dr. Mike Mew, the famous dental practitioner behind mewing. Dr. Mew recommends chin tucks, together with mewing, as an exercise for improving your overall posture and ensuring proper facial development.
The Benefits of Chin Tucking
As mentioned above, the primary benefit of chin tucking is in correcting forward head posture. Forward head posture (FHP) is one of the most common postural problems there is — and it’s exactly what it sounds like: a postural problem where the neck and head stick out forwards.
Forward head posture is believed to be caused by two growing aspects of modern day-to-day life:
- Sedentary lifestyles, which cause a wide range of postural problems from head to toe (especially related to spending long periods of time in the sitting position)
- Use of electronic devices, which causes us to crane our necks forward and down more than ever before
In correcting forward head posture, chin tucking does a few things, according to a peer-reviewed article on Spine-Health.com. First of all, it stretches out the tight back, neck, and face muscles which pull our head forward. In particular, these are the scalene muscles on the front sides of the neck and the suboccipital muscles behind the skull.
Second of all, chin tucking strengthens the weak back, neck, and face muscles which would otherwise hold the head in the correct position. These include the deep cervical flexors and lower cervical extensors, among others, of the upper back and neck.
Chin tucking can also correct forward head posture on an indirect level. By practicing chin tucks on a regular basis, you’ll be more aware of your posture, and thus you’ll be less likely to slouch or make other postural mistakes.
By fixing forward head posture, chin tucking can improve your appearance and health. From a cosmetic point of view, this is because forward head posture is simply considered unattractive. From a medical point of view, it’s because forward head posture is often associated with back and neck pain, as well as higher incidence of back and neck injuries.
Does It Really Work?
You might be wondering whether chin tucking really works, and I’m happy to say that it almost certainly does! At least two studies have shown that chin tucking is a viable exercise for the relief and treatment of forward head posture.
One of these studies tracked the effects of chin tucking (and a second exercise known as the turtle exercise) in 40 individuals with forward head posture across a period of six weeks. The study determined that both chin tucking and the turtle exercise “improved” the cervical curve, or the curvature of the upper spine, thereby correcting forward head posture.
A second study compared the effects of chin tucking across two groups: a group of 6 individuals with normal head posture (NHP) and a group of 6 individuals with forward head posture. The study concluded that chin tucking may have “therapeutic effects” on forward head posture.
Whether chin tucking “works” for you will depend on your expectations. If you’re looking to correct forward head posture, I’m positive that you’ll see great results if you practice chin tucking correctly (see below) over the course of a few months.
However, if you’re hoping that chin tucking will magically correct unrelated cosmetic and health issues, you may be a little disappointed by the results!
How to Get Started with Chin Tucking
Getting started with chin tucking is actually really easy. Above, I said that chin tucking is “pushing your chin backwards into line with the rest of your body.” Here are two ways you can try that:
- In an upright sitting or standing position, place a finger onto your chin and push back until it lines up with the rest of your body
- Standing against a doorway, with your bottom and upper back touching the doorway and your feet positioned about a foot’s length away from the doorway, move your head backwards until it touches the doorway
With either approach, you should aim to hold the chin tuck position for up to 5 seconds. Then, allow your body to return to its normal posture before repeating the exercise.
There are no exact rules for how you should implement the chin tucking exercise in your day-to-day life. Some sources recommend you go for 10 chin tucks at a time, and repeat that about 5-7 times a day. That seems like a sensible routine to me.
In any case, try to implement chin tucking on a regular basis. Dr. Mew suggests that you perform chin tucks as a mealtime exercise, which is to say that you should perform a set of tucks before or after each meal. The source I referred to in the previous paragraph suggests chin tucking with other regular activities in your schedule, like your morning routine, daily commute, or school/work time.
To help you get the most out of chin tucking, here are two great tips:
- Don’t push yourself. If you’re unable to push the chin back into line with the rest of your body, just push as far as comfortable. If you’re unable to hold the tuck for 5 seconds, just hold for as long as comfortable
- Experiment a little. Don’t do anything silly, but do experiment with other modifications or posture exercises. For example, try the variation of the chin tuck suggested by Dr. Mew, where you tilt your head down slightly with each tuck.