How to do Cervical Traction


Find yourself the right tool and cervical traction can be very straightforward. Personally I learned about cervical traction through my physiotherapist and he got me started with the Saunders Cervical traction unit. He had one in his office that I would use each time I saw him for treatment. I truly noticed the benefit and wanted to get one to use at home not only to treat my condition but to prevent reoccurrence.

With that said I will be showing you how to do Cervical Traction with the Saunders unit as it benefited me personally and I will cover the reasons for this.


Full Relaxation during Cervical Traction

Full muscle relaxation is imperative to get full cervical traction treatment. If your muscles are tight then they will be working against the treatment and the goal of separating your vertebral discs or stretching out sore muscles will not be reached.

Lying down is important to achieve full relaxation and that is one reason why a cervical traction unit like Saunders is effective at doing its job.

So lay down on a firm, comfortable, flat surface placing your head into the device as shown and lightly strap your head in. Adjust the knobs to fit the width of your neck comfortably then take a minute to do some deep breathing and focusing on relaxing every layer of muscle in your body, from head to toe.



Proper Angle for Cervical Traction

Basically the ideal angle for cervical traction is at the point that your neck is in neutral position. When in a normal desired standing posture the back of your head naturally is slightly in front of your upper back. So rather than lying completely flat to the floor and feeling very uncomfortable you want your head elevated at an angle of 15 degrees.


Operation of Cervical Traction Unit

To operate your cervical traction unit you want to follow the directions in its manual as each brand will be different. For Saunders Cervical Traction you will have three settings on a hand held pump that say: pump, hold, and release.  Turn it to the “pump” position when you begin and start pumping up the pressure to achieve your desired stretch. When you reach that point turn it to “hold” so the air will stay in and sustain that stretch for as long as you like. To take a break or end your session just turn it to “release” and all the air will slowly go out.


Cervical Traction Treatment Amount

Remember to never go beyond what you can handle and there should be no sharp pains only a nice stretch. It is important to make sure your physiotherapist knows you are using cervical traction and that he/she instructed you how often or how much to use it. You need to build slowly starting with 5-10 minutes sessions in the beginning at a very low pressure like 10-25lbs. After 24 hours you should not feel any added discomfort, if you do, consult your physiotherapist or doctor before going further.


Over the course of a few weeks you will be increasing your time and pressure and may reach 40-50lbs for 15-30 minute sessions.


During treatment you can choose to do sustained or intermittent pressure, either holding the pressure the whole time or releasing and pumping several times during your session.  You are fully in control and once your know what you are doing there is no need for assistance. 

Regina Rain (10 Posts)

Is driven to share her experience with overcoming debilitating and frustrating pain from poor posture habits. She works as a health care professional at her local hospital and seeing sickness and suffering in each patient drives her to promote prevention and natural remedies for better health and well-being.

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