Can Strengthening Neck Muscles Help Prevent Concussions in MMA?

Raleigh Mixed Martial ArtsEvery sports association from your local little league to the NFL and the UFC are beefing up their concussion protocols. With recent research findings pointing to reoccurring concussions increasing long-term health risks for stroke and dementia and other brain diseases, preventing these injuries has become a huge focus. While most athletes are seeing the construction and design of their protective headwear change and new rules being added to how long a player must wait to return to the game after a potential concussion, mixed martial artists are left looking for ways to prevent concussions without all the extra protective gear. Some clinicians and researchers believe that strengthening the neck muscles can help prevent these injuries. Looking for Raleigh mixed martial arts training? Call Gracie Raleigh today!

The University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Neurological Surgery reports that the likelihood that an athlete will suffer a concussion is as high as 19% per year of play. Researchers believe that stronger neck muscles reduce the forces associated with concussions. A stronger neck means decreased head velocity and a reduction in head injury criterion. As a result, researchers concluded that athletes with weaker necks are more susceptible to concussions than other athletes.

To begin to strengthen your neck, it is essential to understand how the neck moves and how different exercises strengthen different muscle groups in the neck. A program to strengthen your neck muscles should be added to your regular training and be performed in a variety of angles with different methodologies, range of motion, and varying exercises. Keep in mind that your neck is a multi-hinged joint that is capable of rotation, flexion, extension, and lateral flexion. Your neck joint also moves diagonally up and down, making it one of the most challenging joints in the body to work adequately. Many sports training programs employ neck training machines to help their athletes work this crucial joint. While this is an improvement, the problem is that these machines only work a single hinge pattern in the neck joints. These machines offer a quantifiable way to measure and progress the amount of weight used to train the neck. However, they should not be the only methodology used.

In addition to using the neck training machines, experts recommend adding manual resistance to work the neck muscles. Using manual force to match the strength curve of your neck muscles can help develop these muscles when they are at their weakest point during a stretch and reduce the force when they are at their strongest point at rest. Splitting manual resistance and machine-based resistance into separate training days will help you better focus your time and energy on strengthening the multiple facets of your neck joint.

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At Gracie Raleigh, our athletes’ safety and well-being are at the core of everything we do. By offering the proper protective training gear and coaching to strength and conditioning exercises and injury prevention focused training we can help even the smallest martial artist stay injury free.

Don’t wait until the new year to begin your martial arts training. Now is a great time to start learning new skills or training to take your skills to the next level. Call or come by our Raleigh mixed martial arts gym today to see what makes Gracie Raleigh different.

Join us next time as we share neck strengthening exercises to help prevent a concussion.