If you haven’t read part one yet start here – you’ll need to know about optimal head and neck positioning to get the full benefit of what is covered in this post.
To prevent the scrunched and pain-filled neck that comes with modern-day living, your neck muscles need to be stronger and better organized.
To clarify what I mean by “neck strength”: it’s not your high school gym teacher enforcing use of the “neck machine” in the weight room.
Neck strength can mean using weighted implements to work the neck flexors and extensors, but the route you’re going to take to strengthen your neck is far more approachable (and easier to include in your training).
And let’s clarify what “better organized” means too, since the organization you’re familiar with might be more in the vein of picturing your closet, with all of your clothes hanging on hangers, organized by color and by season.
Picture instead, all of your neck muscles, and every muscle surrounding them – shoulder and upper back muscles, arm muscles, torso muscles – working together like members of an orchestra playing a piece of music.
Everybody has to start playing at the right time, or else all you hear is noise instead of harmony.
Disharmony, And How To Start Restoring It
Does it always feel like the same area in your neck gets stiff?
If you get a kink in your neck, does it always happen on the same side?
These can be indicators that you’re relying on one area to do the lions’ share of the work for stabilizing your neck.
This can also hint that one part of the neck muscle complex is weaker.
Your neck can also start barking at you because of the movement patterns you perform during your daily life, repeating the same movements over and over again, to the detriment of your soft and hard tissue in your neck.
The key is to start restoring harmony in your neck by changing the input, and thus, reaping the benefit of a new and better output.
Here are two ways you can start doing that –
1) Awareness Of How You Hold Your Head During The Exercises You Already Do
First, make sure you’re using the drawing-back head position covered in part one of this series. You’d be surprised how many common exercises allow for a sub-optimal neck and head position when you’re not paying attention.
Specifically, old favorites like planks, rows, deadlifts, and squats are all culprits you need to keep an eye on when it comes to neck and head position.
Correct head position for strong neck and posture during planks –
Incorrect head position during planks –
This positional awareness of your head during exercise transfers from planks, over to weightlifting movements, to cardiovascular activity, and even to yoga.
Notice your head position and draw it into better alignment to reap the benefit in your training.
The next way to start restoring your neck function and strength is…
2) Teach your body to stabilize itself better
So many mobility issues stem from the fact that the body isn’t stable enough to allow your joints to access their potential mobility.
There are a myriad of mobility drills you can do to start changing your body’s stability and mobility levels. Those are in a pool we’ll dive into another time though. Today, I want to tell you about one of my favorite exercises that helps you develop more stability in your torso. It also serves to strengthen the musculature around your torso, and can helps to make your neck and shoulders more stable and strong as well!
This all-around awesome drill is called the Pallof Press. Watch the video to learn how to do it!
The Future Of Your Neck Pain
When your neck isn’t hurting, you can focus your attention elsewhere – like on your sports and hobbies, your family, or that book you’ve been wanting to dive into but you couldn’t find a comfortable position to rest your head.
To dig in much deeper than I can here in a quick blog post, attend my Fit For Real Life Online Workshop and learn everything you need to know to get rid of your neck and shoulder tension – for good. Click the image below to get the workshop.