There have been a lot of questions around the topic of concussions. What are you doing to be proactive? What are you doing to help your athletes be prepared for competition? What is the most important area of the body to train in preparation for combat sports? Contact sports? Non-contact?
For those of you who read the title and thought, “We do shrugs. We train the neck.” Read this, print this and share this with three of your coaches.
Do not for a second overlook the benefits of training both the head and neck. Yes, the head, neck and upper back are all responsible for helping to reduce the sub-concussive forces that the brain may experience in athletics or every day life.
Find thirteen minutes two times a week. And make head and neck training a priority. If you don’t have access to a machine (and you should add a 4 or 5- way Neck Machine to your “must have” list this season.), try implementing these exercises into your program. Remember that your program is evaluated by the quality of each repetition. Coach your athletes how to perform these exercises correctly. When you feel like your athletes are finally getting it, coach them up again and again. Never stop emphasizing the importance of quality rep replication.
The following manual resistance exercises can be performed during a strength training or fitness session. The following exercises are designed to strengthen the flexors and extensors of the cervical spine.
Neck Flexion (Target: Neck Flexors)
1.Lying face up on a bench with your shoulders slightly over the edge of the bench. The top of the head should be parallel to the floor. At the beginning of each rep the neck muscles should be totally relaxed.
2.Flexing only the neck muscles, raise the head forward and upward so that the chin is resting on the chest—pause momentarily and resist the negative to the starting position.
3.Place the dominant hand on the lifter’s forehead and your other hand on the lifter’s chin. Apply as much pressure as needed to accommodate for the strength curve of the neck flexors.
Neck Extension (Target: Neck Extensors)
1.Lying face down on a flat bench with your head hanging over the edge of the bench. Neck should be totally relaxed with your chin touching your chest and hands resting under your hips.
2.Raise your head upward and backwards until it is fully extended. Pause momentarily and resist the negative to the start position.
3.Form a web with your hands and place them on the back of the lifters head. Begin the exercise with mild pressure and allow the lifter to raise their head in an arc that resembles a half moon. Adjust resistance according to the strength curve of the neck extensors.
Rob Taylor is the founder and owner of SMARTER Team Training. Coach Taylor was the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Loyola University Maryland for over seven years. Rob was a strength and conditioning consultant for athletes on the Women’s Lacrosse World Cup Champion’s Team Australia in 2005, and was the Head Strength Coach for Team Australia’s 2009 World Cup team which played in the world championship game also. He has worked with professional organizations such as the Anaheim Angels, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tampa Bay Mutiny, and San Antonio Silver Stars.