The Importance of Neck Strengthening for Athletes Participating in Contact Sports
Neck strengthening exercises are one of the most effective ways to prevent concussions in contact sports. These exercises, which should be incorporated for athletes of all ages and ability levels, can help to decrease the impact that contact has on the brain. As a result, if your child participates in tackle football, neck strengthening should be an integral part of their training as a way to keep them safe on the field.
What are Concussions?
A concussion is a brain injury that results from a blow, jolt or bump to the head or body that causes the head and brain to rapidly move forwards and backwards. Put more simply, a concussion is caused by any contact that makes your brain move. This motion can cause the brain to bounce or twist in the skull, which can lead to chemical changes in the brain and can cause stretching or damage to brain cells.
The Correlation between Neck Strength and Concussions
Recent research shows that neck strength, size and posture can decrease both the risk and severity of concussions. This is because a stronger, thicker neck that is aligned forward will result in less impact being applied to the brain during contact. Basically, a stronger neck decreases the amount of force that the brain feels upon impact.
Further confirming this, ongoing research shows that less acceleration of the head, which occurs when neck muscles are strong, leads to less movement of the brain. To make this connection between neck strength and concussions even more tangible, a 2014 study found that for every 1 pound increase in neck strength, the odds of getting a concussion decrease by 5 percent.
Who Should Implement Neck Strengthening Exercises
Based on the strong correlation between neck strength and concussions, neck strengthening exercises and neck exercises for mass should be implemented as part of every contact sport training program. This is true no matter the age or skill level – young athletes and beginners should regularly engage in neck strengthening exercises as should older and more advanced athletes. Additionally, it’s important to note that neck strengthening exercises are especially important for girls, who generally have less neck strength than boys and who report twice as many concussions as boys in sports that they both play.
Iron Neck Pro
While equipment can make neck strengthening more effective, even athletes that don’t have access to the gym can do daily neck exercises. What’s even more encouraging, however, is the fact that as our understanding of the importance of neck muscles has improved, so has the technology around ways to develop these all-important muscles. Iron Neck Pro is one such development, and I’m using it in my program with all of my athletes.
Iron Neck Pro is a new device that is portable and that can be connected to any structure to let athletes perform all major neck movements in both isometric and isotonic style. I believe it’s important that my athletes train with this state-of-the-art equipment for a couple of reasons. First, unlike other neck routines, which involve stationary holding positions, Iron Neck Pro allows for constant tension and resistance while rotating and moving the neck. The result is that athletes are able to perform more dynamic exercises. Second, it allows for more realistic sport-specific training and a lot of variance in strengthening plans.
I’m confident that all of the athletes in my program are getting the most innovative and effective techniques for strengthening their necks, which in turn helps to keep them safe on the field. Wherever your child trains, ensure that he’s doing regular neck exercises. This is one of the most important things you can do to help your kids avoid concussions in contact sports.