There are many reasons why a person might want or need to start a program of neck exercise for strengthening the neck. If you are bodybuilding, a strong neck is important for prevention of injuries in this vital and vulnerable area. It is also important for appearance, being even more visible than the arms when fully clothed.
Neck strengthening is particularly important for sports players, especially in contact sports such as boxing, wrestling, football, etc. Neck injuries in these sports can be disastrous, causing paralysis or even death. You might also want to strengthen the neck because of a previous neck injury.
The neck is a complicated area of human anatomy and there are four main muscle groups which both support the head and allow it to move in all directions. These are:
– Rotators, so that you can turn your head and look over your shoulder
– Flexors, so that you can look down, moving your chin toward your chest
– Extensors, so that you can tip your head back, looking up at the ceiling
– Lateral Flexors, so that you can tilt your head sideways, moving your ear toward your shoulder
The action of all of these together means that you can move your head around in any direction that you want. They all need to be flexible to maintain your range of movement, and strong to help prevent potentially fatal injuries.
Before trying any neck exercise keep in mind that the neck is a very delicate area and you must take care not to strain it. Start with very low resistance in each case. You should always consult with a doctor before starting any exercise program and check that the exercises are suitable for you.
Rotators can easily be strengthened by simply placing the hand against the head to provide resistance while you turn your head to the limit of your range of motion, first to one side then the other. Keep the head straight. Slowly increase resistance when your head is turned as far as it can.
The easiest way to strengthen the other 3 muscle groups together is to use a 4-way neck machine which you can find at many gyms. Other gyms have a simple headstrap device which is not so effective because the headstrap generally only works the extensor muscles.
If your gym does not have a 4-way neck machine you can use the headstrap for the extensors. Most gyms will have a headstrap or you can purchase one. You can also find exercises for the flexors and lateral flexors using the headstrap or a towel etc to provide resistance.
The secret in each case is to find an exercise that provides resistance while you move your head in the appropriate direction. Remember always to start with low resistance when you begin any neck exercise.