Core tone and the curve of the neck are intensely related to each other. The curves of the lower back and neck are meant to be mirror images of each other and lining them up correctly is the goal of almost all posture work.
I had an interesting exchange recently with a student who was asking about instructions to pull the ears back and up to align the head and neck. She had been trying to do this for a while but found, in a doctor’s visit that included x-rays of the cervical spine (the neck), that she had flattened the curve out of her neck with this lengthening action. This is something that we certainly don’t want to do.
But we do want to figure out how to get the head successfully on top of the shoulders. I asked her to take her head and neck back the way she had been doing and sure enough you could tell that the extension at the back of the neck was a bit much. Not everyone has access to this kind of movement so many people who would do the same action wouldn’t be able to get close to flattening out the curve.
Then I asked her to pull her head back and create core tone by engaging her transverse abdominis, a muscle deep in the lower belly. This key abdominal muscle provides intrinsic support to the lumbar spine which in turn supports the cervical spine. When she pulled her head back and engaged her abs I think the feeling made sense to her. Core tone in the abs can help to create and maintain the curve in your neck. Only when the tone of the core is balanced can the alignment of the head and neck find a harmonious place.
And the idea isn’t to walk around making a muscle all the time so that your head and neck are supported. The name of the game is to exercise and build core tone and a balanced musculature that allows for muscles to live in their ideal resting length as you make your way through life.
Core tone and the correct curve of the neck go hand in hand in a happy and healthy body.