For full contact or collision sports, neck training is becoming significantly prominent due to the increased awareness for injury reduction in these types of sports. Specifically, utilizing these protocols for concussion and traumatic brain injury (TBI) reduction, which growing evidence supports.
“Every one pound increase in neck strength leads to a decrease in five percent chance of sustaining a concussion.” Collins et al. (2014)
The “system” of the neck doesn’t just involve the cervical region, but the jaw, shoulder, clavicle, and the nuchal ligament which provides muscular attachments to cervical processes which allows for greater extension at the neck.
The problem with neck training is that it isn’t as “pretty” or “rewarding” compared to hitting a PR in a deadlift or bench press. Although, the most common injury discussed when it comes to collision sports around the world is the concussion. So if we claim as performance coaches to help in reducing injury, neck training is a must, and should stay consistent in ones training if concussions are abundant in their respective sport(s).
Neck training itself does not have to be overly complicated. Some of the most basic strengthening interventions can make a huge difference in the prevalence and seriousness of concussions.
Our neck training protocols are simple. First, require the athlete to keep a neutral position through flexion/extension/lateral isometric holds, which may be done through simple manual isometric drills. After the athlete has demonstrated the ability to maintain a neutral position, we then ask them to stabilize in various environments that they may find themselves in their sport, and challenge them with unknown perturbations versus expecting when a specific load is going to be applied.
Follow our Instagram or Facebook page over the next few days to see some of our neck strengthening exercises that we utilize with our athletes here at Total Athlete Performance.