Noisy Necks

By Matt Heyliger, DPT

I am frequently asked about whether it is normal for a neck to make a lot of noise. Some of the more common adjectives I hear from patients describing these sensations are creaking, grinding or crinkly noises…the kind of noises you hear on the inside but are not generally audible to others. The short answer is yes, some increase in neck noise is to be expected as we age. However, certain noisy necks deserve a bit more attention. 

To clarify, the noisy necks described above should be distinguished from other common neck noises including popping, cracking, clicking or snapping sensations in the neck. The importance in this distinction is that the former is most likely associated with normal wear and tear as long as there is not pain associated with the noise, where the latter may indicate some problems brewing in your noisy neck. Necks that tend to pop a lot, especially those that need to pop to relieve tension or pain, are likely experiencing increased stress in the joints and/or disc at the level of the popping. This should be seen as a warning sign. For the owner of that noisy neck, there is likely some degree of asymmetry in the mobility of the joints in the neck. This can lead to degeneration of those segments of the cervical spine that may lead to more problems than just neck noise down the line. 

If your noisy neck is associated with pain and/or ever increasing stiffness and loss of mobility then you should consider consulting with your Physical Therapist. While some loss of motion in you neck is common with aging, especially in your later 60’s and beyond, earlier onset of a significant loss in mobility could be a tipping point for your neck. Many folks who bring this up during a physical therapy appointment are relieved to learn that certain neck noise is normal. In situations where neck noise may be indicative of a neck that’s going south, taking action and making a plan may really make a difference in your quality of life a few years around the bend.



Matt Heyliger, DPT of Excel Physical Therapy completed his Doctorate in Physical Therapy at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Washington. He has a particular treatment focus in the relationship of cervical/thoracic spine mechanics and upper extremity conditions. An avid rock climber, telemark/backcountry skier and mountain biker, Matt regularly practices yoga and enjoys frequent adventures in the mountains with his family and their two labs.

Pain on the Bottom of your Foot? Plantar Intrinsic Training is a Solution

By Matt Heyliger, DPT

Plantar Intrinsic Training

by Matt Heyliger, DPT, Excel Physical Therapy

Over-pronation (the inward roll of the foot while walking or running) is a common contributing factor in the development of several lower extremity injuries including plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinopathy, patellafemoral knee pain and other overuse conditions. Recent research addressing the contributing factors to the development of plantar foot pain (pain at the bottom of your foot) has emphasized the importance of training the muscles of the foot to keep the arch from collapsing inward. It has been proposed that the intrinsic plantar muscles of the foot play a similar role in arch preservation as the core muscles play in the stabilization of the trunk and spine. This concept provides a great foundation for direct treatment of conditions associated with over-pronation.


A recent study by Mulligan and Cook, published in the journal “Manual Therapy,” presented this concept and sought to test if the performance of a series of exercises (named “Short Foot Exercises”) directed at isolating the recruitment of the plantar foot muscles could decrease pronation after four weeks of training. They discovered a small, but significant difference in arch height and these differences were preserved after eight weeks without continued training. While these exercises are tedious and initially challenging, our patients here at Excel Physical Therapy are responding well to these exercises. If you have been dealing with plantar foot pain and are not responding to other therapies or orthotics, consider training the “core” of your feet with Short Foot Exercises.


Be sure to contact a licensed health professional before starting any exercise plan and for a thorough evaluation or diagnosis of your issue. We can help. Call us in Bozeman at 406.556.0562 or in Manhattan at 406.284.4262.


About Matt Heyliger, DPT:

Matt completed his Doctorate in Physical Therapy at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Washington. During his clinical experience with the Sports Medicine and Extremities team at The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital in Salt Lake City, Matt was exposed to a wide variety of surgical and non-surgical conditions and developed a solid foundation for the assessment and treatment of orthopedic conditions related to the extremities.
Matt is an avid rock climber, telemark/backcountry skier and mountain biker. Matt regularly practices yoga and enjoys frequent adventures in the mountains with his wife and their Alaskan Malamute.


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