I was wondering if there are any exercises one can do to strengthen the neck?
I am going to assume that you believe you or your client are having problems with neck/cervical "weakness" and/or fatigue and are not concerned with "hypertrophy" or aesthetic goals. The weakness or fatigue that is being experienced may very well be due to muscular imbalances around the cervical spine. Do a brief static assessment on the cervical posture. Ideal posture would be as follows (assuming there have been no major traumas):
- ANTERIOR VIEW (front): Head centered and not tilted right or left, no noticeable rotation right or left
- LATERAL VIEW (side): Cervical slightly convex to anterior, head not tilted forward or backward, NO PROTRACTION
- POSTERIOR VIEW (back): Again, head centered, not tilted right or left, no noticeable rotation right or left
If you are noticing a deviation away from ideal posture, focusing on alignment and stability of the cervical spine may be the place for you to start. Re-establishing optimal posture will go hand in hand with increasing strength! The most common cervical postural distortion noticed in many is that of a FORWARD HEAD LEAN or cervical protraction. If this is ultimately what you discover, than I would recommend trying the following flexibility and strength protocols:
SHORT MUSCLES TO BE STRETCHED:
- Sternocleidomastoid stretch
- Scalenes stretch
LENGTHENED MUSCLES TO BE STRENGTHENED:
- Ball Cervical Retraction (i.e. Prone Cobra without the arm motion, simply emphasizing the "chin tuck") progressing to:
- Floor Prone Cobra, progressing to:
- Stability Ball Prone Cobra, progressing to:
- Dumbbell Stability Ball Prone Cobra
* All of the above exercises can be found in the PTN Exercise & Flexibility Library.