The neck is the area of the body that is involved with every type of exercise you can perform. Whether you’re trying to work your abdominal muscles during some crunches or strengthening your lower body through some squats, the neck remains a vital component to workouts with everything from posture to avoiding serious injury. While you may be focusing on the spacing of your feet or keeping your chin in a level position during an exercise, it’s crucial to never forget about proper neck placement during physical activity. Consider these tips to boost your neck safety the next time you workout:
Neck safety exercises
The University of Rochester Medical Center insists that performing neck exercises before or after a workout is essential for not only avoiding injury, but for strengthening your neck as well. This is especially true if you’ve experienced prior neck pain whenever you’re undertaking physical exercise. Fortunately, there are a variety of simple neck workouts that require minimum effort while producing maximum results.
For starters, doing some neck rotations before you approach a weight bar will help to boost your flexibility and loosen up your neck before any strenuous weightlifting activity. Doing a few reps of slowly tilting your neck to the right and left as far as you can should be a practically mandatory dynamic to your approach to physical activity. Shoulder circles also do wonders for increasing flexibility for your neck muscles, as well as side stretches and head lifts.
The American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation also lists a number of precautionary measures anyone serious about protecting their neck should consider outside of the gym. If your job requires you to stay in position for long stretches of time, such as sitting at a computer desk or driving a car, make sure you’re taking frequent breaks throughout the day to avoid stiffness. Get up and go for a quick walk, or do some of those neck exercises while you’re seated at your desk.
In addition to taking breaks, the posture you have while working is almost as important of a factor for preserving your neck from injury. If you’re slouching over or leaning sideways at your desk, the longer you hold that position, the more unnecessary strain you put on your neck. This can also be related to when you’re sleeping. Harvard Medical School reports that the two best sleeping positions for your neck are either on your back or on your side. Sleeping on your stomach only arches your back, making it tougher on your spine and increasing the stress upon your neck all throughout the night. Harvard also suggests using pillows that conform to the shape of your neck instead of harder types.
Crunches are one of those exercises that we take for granted, especially because having poor neck position during them may produce unhealthy consequences over time. One of the common mistakes in terms of neck placement during crunches is pulling your neck forward with your hands as your body rises with each crunch. This is a fast way to lead to soreness of the neck because you’re adding extra force onto it every time you pull your neck down.
The trick to having efficient neck position while doing crunches is making sure that it’s the core of your body doing all of the work. As you flex your abdominal muscles when your chest lifts up, keep your neck straight. A good way to keep your neck flat is by not lacing your fingers together behind your head. That type of technique is the primary factor for promoting unnecessary neck movement while doing crunches.