Neck Strengthening Exercises to Help Prevent a Concussion

Raleigh Mixed Martial Arts TrainingThanks for joining us for our post on neck strengthening exercises. In our previous post, we examined whether neck strengthening exercises can prevent concussions for MMA fighters. Overwhelming new research has led to a marked increase in concussion safety protocols and the development of advanced headgear for both amateur and professional athletes. While there has not been a headgear mandate for MMA fighters, many are taking steps to reduce their concussion risk by adopting strength training programs for their neck muscles. For more information on the why behind the development of these programs and an explanation of how the neck works, read the first part of this series. For the best Raleigh mixed martial arts training, nothing beats Gracie Raleigh. Come by the gym today to learn more!

Research suggests that as neck strength increases per pound there is a five percent decrease in the risk of concussion. Neck strengthening exercises are easy to perform and require little equipment. Most gyms and athletic programs have neck muscle machines which offer a quantifiable way to measure neck strength improvement. However, these machines only work the multifaceted neck joint in one direction. To achieve the full benefit of neck muscle exercises, experts agree that manual exercises should be added to the training program as well. Adding these exercises to your current strength training program is as easy as including these exercises:

  • Dumbbell Press - Raise your arms so that your elbows are even with your shoulders and flexed at approximately 90 degrees. From this starting position, raise the dumbbell toward the ceiling while straightening your elbow. Return to the starting position and repeat for three sets of ten.
  • Shrugs - This is a common resistance exercise that can be performed either with a barbell or dumbbells. Begin by holding a dumbbell of appropriate weight in each hand. Extend your arms to the side and then raise your shoulders, lifting the weight of the dumbbell. Slowly relax to the starting position. Do this in controlled movements for three sets of ten.

Lateral, forward, backward, and rotational resistance exercises of the neck should also be performed to strengthen all facets of the neck joint. These exercises are most commonly performed with a neck machine. However, those without access to this equipment can still strengthen this part of the neck.

  • Rotational Resistance Exercises - Place your hand against the side of your forehead and then attempt to rotate your head towards the right or the left while nodding "no." There should be no actual movement of the head due to the resistance of your hand. Hold the position in active resistance for about 5 to 10 seconds and then repeat in the opposite direction.
  • Lateral Resistance Exercises - Place your right hand on the right side of your head. The muscles of the neck are flexed so that the right ear attempts to move downward toward the right shoulder but, because you are resisting that action, your head doesn't actually move. Hold this position in active resistance for about 5 to 10 seconds. The exercise can then be performed on the left side of the head, front of the head, and back of the head.

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As with any new exercise, consult a trainer who is familiar with these exercises for clarity on how to perform these moves and avoid injury. At Gracie Raleigh, we are committed to the safety and conditioning of our athletes and work hard to provide exceptional instruction both on and off the mat. For more on the full lineup of Raleigh mixed martial arts training available or to see what we are about, call or come by the gym today. Begin the new year with new skills from Gracie Raleigh.

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