You Need To Train Your Neck. Here’s Why!
Neck strengthening isn’t just for athletes. I believe everyone needs to strengthen their neck for injury prevention, performance, and pain relief.
One of the most common things we see in clinic is something referred to as “tech neck.” Tech neck is caused by 2 main factors
- Prolonged posture
- Excess stress on the levator scapula from being in those positions.
But then the question you are going to ask is…. Is it preventable?
Shades of grey, yes! You can train the deep neck muscles that will take load off the levator scap and trap muscles. But if you spend too long in certain positions it won’t matter how strong those muscles are because load/ stress will effectively exceed tissue tolerance.
What’s causing your neck pain?
I believe most of the chronic neck pain clients I see have issues caused by a muscular imbalance between upper and lower trap muscles. The other cause of neck pain can also be compensation for shoulder joint issues resulting in tight upper trap muscles.
These are the muscles I work through in the assessment of chronic neck issues
- Lower traps
- Rotator cuff
- Pec minor
- Teres Minor
- Upper traps
How to Train Your Neck
The key like any stability muscle is to train the deep neck muscles without overstimulating the larger “prime” movers.
The key is to start light. Use the neck movements of flexion, extension, and rotation exercises in equal volume to target smaller, deep neck muscles, and shrugs, rows, and deadlifts to target larger muscle groups.
The movements I recommend are:
- Flexion (moving your chin down and back)
- Rotation/anti-rotation (turning your head, not your chest, left and right)
- Extension (chin back and down)
- Isometric catch (catching a light weight against the front side and back of the head, usually in a seated position)
I also recommend loading your neck training. This is beneficial for a few reasons:
- It’s easier to progressively overload your training when you know exactly what weight you’re lifting.
- It’s easier to isolate smaller muscle groups in the head and get a better range of motion in the neck.
Training your neck as little as two sets twice per week produces good results in injury prevention and pain relief. I usually start off with two sets of 10-15 reps twice per week, which gets results and takes all of five minutes to complete.
So if you:
- Work at a desk
- Own a laptop or mobile phone
- Drive a lot
- Are stressed and suffering from migraines
- Are worried about concussions
Then try doing these movements a few times a week and feel the pain melt away (or prevent it from ever happening!).
Andrew Ilieff - BeFit Training Physio Double Bay
Andrew Ilieff is a physiotherapist based in Double Bay, Sydney. Andrew has successfully treated musculoskeletal problems and sports injuries on the basis of a thorough assessment and diagnosis coupled with evidence-based rehabilitation programs tailored to the needs and goals of each individual. Andrew specialises in lower back rehab, sports injuries and is a leading authority on Strength and Conditioning for Physiotherapists as the co-author of the University Of Technology Sydney Strength and Conditioning for Physiotherapists and casual academic lecturer. To book a consultation, click the link below.