Building Neck Strength
For the most part, we don’t train our necks. In fact, I’d bet a pretty penny that your gym program covers almost everything from feet up to chest and upper back, maybe even a weighted shrug… but nothing higher.
Unless we’re race car drivers, wrestlers, MMA fighters or the like, neck strength isn’t something we normally consider. Chances are the most exercise we do here is looking from the screen on the desk, to the other screen in our hands. The modern way of life has a lot to answer for.
Mechanically speaking our head and neck is in a fairly fine balance. The head is like a heavy ball that houses our brain and other sense organs (eyes, ears etc.). For these to function properly the head needs to be held stable and level most of the time, but also moveable so we can direct focus for things like head checks. This heavy ball sits on top of a very slender cervical spine which allows plenty of movement – but anything that moves a lot is inherently less stable. So, we rely heavily on muscular strength for balancing stability and movement.
Keeping this mechanical system in balance requires us to maintain good strength and flexibility in these muscles. Like any other muscles, this is best done with regular mobility and resistance training. Unfortunately, just looking from one screen to another doesn’t really cut it…
Anyone that’s been following our strength series knows we love picking exercises that aren’t common, this round is no exception. Active loading of the neck muscles has some really great benefits (especially in people with neck pain and headaches) and resistance bands are the perfect way to do just that. In this video you will see resisted movement into extension and rotation either side, but this can easily be adapted to train flexion or side-bending movements.
Keep the resistance light and build your sets and reps gradually, aim for endurance more so than brute strength and remember to look up from those screens once in a while. Get out of the office and go for a walk, look around and get your neck moving.
If you struggle with neck pain or have a neck injury, a visit to one of our friendly osteopaths will provide a completely individualised assessment and treatment plan, and expert advice on ways you can help strengthen and support your body to do what you need it to.
For more information or to find out how we can help you recover from neck pain call us on 03 8370 3044.
Want to know more?
You can learn more about the MOH approach to neck pain and improving neck function by checking out blogs in the MOH Neck series;
- Functional Osteopathic assessment of the Neck
- Osteopathic treatment of Neck Pain
- Mobility exercises for Neck Pain
- Clinical Pilates for Neck Pain
- Myotherapy for Neck Pain
For more information, ideas and exercises check out our Health Tips blog.