You’re probably thinking “why should I work my neck?” That’s a great question. I thought the same exact thing for a long time. Who works their neck muscles? Male bodybuilders, right? Yes. But, hear me out. Working your neck muscles is beneficial to the rest of your body. Read on to find out why.
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Your neck muscles are not built for size. They are built to support your skull on your spine. Whether you play professional soccer or just like to run 5ks at home, your neck is highly involved in many physical sports.
From sliding into home plate to going up for a rebound, your neck is put at risk in many different movements. Strengthening your neck muscles can reduce your risk and help protect your spine and spinal cord from injury.
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Your neck is composed of several small muscles. The splenius starts just behind your ears and runs diagonally across your skull towards your back where it connects to the spine underneath your trapezius muscle.
The sternocleidomastoid (can you say that three times fast?) runs behind your ears to your collarbone. Your trapezius muscle is mainly an upper back muscle, but it does run up the backside of your neck. Together, these three muscles are responsible for all movement of your neck.
How to Get the Perfect Neck
When you train your neck, it’s important to keep safety as the number one priority. Don’t train your neck on the same day you train your upper body, especially if you train with heavy weights. You should train your neck on a separate day at the beginning of your workout when your muscles aren’t fatigued.
As with any muscle group you work, but especially with your neck, you need flawless form. Never lift heavy weights with your neck. You’re just opening yourself up to injury. Always use full range of motion when exercising your neck. It helps maintain and possibly increase the flexibility of your muscles and helps prevent injuries.
Fun Fact: Experience neck pain? Your sleeping position could be the reason why your neck hurts in the morning. To reduce neck pain, it’s best to sleep on your back or your side.
Exercises to Get a Beautiful, Toned Neck
People often have neck pain due to lifestyle choices like desk jobs, watching television, and bad posture. Stretching your neck can help relieve some of that pain. To do the chin-to-chest stretch, start in a seated position on the floor. Place both hands at the back of your head with your fingers interlocked and thumbs pointing down. With your elbows pointing straight ahead, slowly pull your head down so your chin is touching your chest. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
Isometric Front and Back Hold
Stand in a comfortable position with your head and neck in a neutral position. Place both your hands on the front side of your head with your fingers interlaced on your forehead. Gently push your neck forward by contracting your neck muscles into your hands. Press your hands into your forehead so your neck resists any movement. Hold for 10 seconds. Slowly release the tension. Rest for 10 seconds. Repeat with your hands on the back of your head.
Isometric Side Hold
Similar to the isometric front and back hold above, the isometric side hold applies tension to each side of your neck. Start with your left hand on the left side of your head. Gently push your head into your left hand resisting the movement of your head. Hold for 10 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds and repeat on the right side.
Trainer Tip: If you experience neck pain, make sure you check with your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise that involves your neck. Always prioritize safety!