Seven Neck Exercises to Prevent Concussion

Oct 11, 2021


For decades, researchers have shown that those with stronger, thicker neck muscles are less likely to sustain a concussion after certain head impacts. It's a reason why men have a slightly reduced risk of concussions than women do. 


That’s why researchers have suggested that athletes should build neck strength and mass to reduce their risk of concussions. This post will examine how soccer players can benefit from neck exercises and provide 7 exercises they can incorporate into their conditioning routine. 

1. Up & Down (Extension and Flexion) 

Head nod

With this neck exercise, you start with your head in a neutral position (looking straight ahead). 

 

First, you will look up, extending your neck until the tip of your nose is pointing at the ceiling (as if looking up at the sky). 

 

Next, flex your neck and bring your back down until your chin touches the middle of your collarbone. 

 

Repeat this sequence. 

 

Do 1 set of 10-15 reps. 

 

2. Side-to-Side Bends (Lateral Flexion)

Side-to-side bends

In this movement, you’ll bend your neck side to side. 

 

First, start with your head in a neutral position (looking straight ahead). 

 

Bring your ear as close to your shoulder as possible. You can put your hand on your head (this is optional).  

 

Then, bring your head back to the centre. 

 

After, bend your head to the opposite side and then back to the centre again. 

 

Repeat this sequence. 

 

Do 1 set of 10-15 reps on each side.

 

3. Side-to-Side Rotation (Lateral Rotation)

With this neck exercise, you will turn your head side to side (like when you turn to look in another direction). 

 

You will begin in a neutral position (looking straight ahead). 

 

Next, gently turn your neck in one direction (ie. right) so your chin is over your shoulder. 

 

Keep your neck and shoulders straight and upright the whole time. 

 

Return the center (or neutral) position. 

 

Then twist your neck to the other direction (ie. left) so your chin is over your shoulder. 

 

Keep your neck and shoulders straight and upright the whole time. 

 

Return the center (or neutral) position. 

 

Repeat the sequence. 

 

Do 1 set of 10-15 reps on each side. 

 

4. Prone Cobra

Prone Cobra.

This neck exercise is a bit more complicated and advanced compared to the others on this list. 

 

Start with lying face down and your forehead placed on a rolled-up hand towel for support. 

 

Place your arms at your side, with your palms on the floor. 

 

Keep your tongue on the roof of the mouth (since this helps stabilize the muscles in the front of your neck, making them stronger). 

 

Pinch/squeeze your shoulder blades together and lift your hands off the floor. 

 

Roll your elbows in, with your palms out and thumbs up. 

 

Gently lift your forehead roughly one inch off the towel, keeping your eyes looking straight at the floor (don’t tilt your head back or look ahead). 

 

Hold this position for 10 seconds - this counts as 1 rep. 

 

Do 1 set of 10 reps.

 

5. Banded Look-Aways

This exercise involves a resistance band. 

 

Start by draping a hand towel over a lightly tensioned resistance band. 

 

Next, secure the band to a power rack, slightly above eye level. 

 

Loop the resistant band around your forehead and sit on a chair facing away from the rack. Make sure the band has some slack. 

 

Gently rotate your neck so your chin is over your shoulder. 

 

Return to the centre (neutral position). 

 

Rotate your head to the opposite side so your chin is over your shoulder and then return to neutral. 

 

Repeat this sequence. 

 

Do 1 set of 10 reps for each side. 

 

6. Wall Presses 

As its name suggests, this exercise requires you to work with a wall. It emphasizes the development of neck and shoulder strength. 

 

Begin by standing with your back and head against the wall with your shoulders pulled back. 

 

Next, press the back of your head against the wall and hold for one second. 

 

Relax your head. 

 

Repeat the sequence. 

 

Do 1 set of 10 reps. 

 

7. Dumbbell Shrug

Dumbbell shrug.

For this weighted neck exercise, you will use your neck and shoulders to “lift” the weight. 

 

To start, hold the dumbbell at your side (with your palm facing in). 

 

Next, keep your arm straight, and shrug your shoulder toward your ear. 

 

Lower your shoulder back to the resting position and repeat for your predetermined number of reps. 

 

Switch sides and repeat this exercise. 

 

Do 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps on each side. 

 

Protect Your Head from the Neck Up 

Strength and conditioning coaches from various sports use these neck workouts to help protect athletes against concussions and brain injuries. They’re great for building strength, mass and endurance - all of which reduce the impact of head trauma. 

 

As effective as they are, however, they won’t protect you in isolation - they’re just part of the puzzle. Protecting yourself against concussions also requires other strategies such as improved visual awareness and the use of protective gear, namely, concussion headgear.

 

Nevertheless, these neck exercises build a strong foundation that can support other protocols that reduce concussion risks, neck pain, blows to the head, and other forms of head injury.

 

Are you looking for concussion headgear to reduce the risk of brain injury & impact syndrome? Take a look at our ExoShield headguard and learn how it can help.

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