Many people neglect their necks when they exercise, making it difficult to gain any strength in that area. The neck is just like the rest of the spine, and keeping it strong is important. After all, the average head weighs about 10-11 pounds. Try carrying that around all day with a weak neck, and you’ll know why people’s head posture is so poor. Some might worry that exercising the neck will hurt it, but the exact opposite is true. If you don’t do anything to strengthen it, you probably will end up injuring your neck. Also, don’t worry about looking like a linebacker in football – the chances of building a neck like that are unlikely without really trying for it.
Building strength in your neck is easier than you might think. There are two very simple tests that you can do to test out your neck strength and posture overall.
Neck Strengthening Tests
The Deep Cervical Flexor Endurance Test
- As you can see in the picture below start by lying on your back on a firm surface
- Tuck your chin down towards your chest
- Next you want to lift the back of the head off of the surface you are on about 1 inch
- Once here your head should not change position. This can be tough to tell on your own, but any skilled physical therapist should be able to help you with your form
- Normal Values:
- Women: 29.4 seconds
- Men: 38.9 seconds
With this one, start off on your stomach, again on a firm surface, with your head down and palms facing up.
The following movements will occur simultaneously-
- Lifting your head while keeping your chin tucked
- Pick up your chest while squeezing shoulder blades straight back
- Rotating your arms to try and turn your thumbs up toward the ceiling
- Normal Values:
- Women and Men: 3:00
Start Building Your Neck Strength Today
Now it’s your turn. Grab a timer, get down and give them a try. Don’t be surprised by spontaneous shaking from having a whole lot of new muscles working. Waking them up is the goal and if you are not at the norms start a little smaller. Holding for 10 seconds, 10 repetitions is a great place to start and build from.
There are certainly many other things that can be done for the neck. The easiest of which would be some isometrics where you keep your head in good posture and push on one side and then switch to the other. You can use the same 10 second, 10 repetition count as above, and progress from there. This way, you get all planes of the neck. These should be enough for everyday strength. Keep up with the exercises above, and you’ll have a neck that can support your head and be well ahead of 99% of the population. Of course, while exercise is important, you also want to include proper stretching.
Physical Therapy for Neck Pain
Don’t let neck pain hold you back. At Robbins Rehabilitation West, we can help those struggling with neck pain. If you’re looking for a little more info on preventing neck pain, you can check out our free neck pain video course. The best way to treat your neck pain is by working with experienced physical therapists who can help you safely strengthen your neck.
If you’re ready to improve your neck’s strength, contact us for physical therapy in Bethlehem and surrounding areas to get started on the path to healing right away.