PT on the Net Research

Pushups - Head Alignment


Question

I am curious about the proper alignment of your head while doing a pushup. Should your head be neutral or is it better to have to have your head up with your eyes facing forward?

Answer

Head position will influence almost everything. The reasons for the head’s position are numerous. Our head’s contain an equilibrium mechanism. This mechanism is one of the things responsible for keeping us upright. When we do pushups most of us are somewhat horizontal. Equilibrium issues are less of a concern. So, what is the deal with head position and pushups?

One question we need to ask is: why are we doing pushups? Because I like them, for a gymnast, body weight workout or to place some stress on my chest and shoulder girdle? May be all the above. If you watch gymnast do a floor routine, most have their head in a neutral position. This allows them to stay focused and take a balance and alignment check at all times. If someone is preparing for some event that requires neck strength or is in the military, then the neck is extended. With extension the face is looking forward. It takes a lot of extra energy to keep those neck muscles firing. Most likely the extra energy expenditure will decrease the number of pushups completed.

If the reason for pushups is training for a fitness challenge, then keeping the head in a neutral position is suggested. This allows the neck muscles to relax as much as possible. Without the undue stress a person can better focus on cranking out the pushups. It has been my experience that most people automatically fall into a neutral position when they start to stress while doing pushups. Take note the next time you do a max. Pushup test.

If we get back to our question of why am I doing these pushups? Does that lead us to the development of the chest & shoulder area? If so, maybe we need a few angles. That directs us to the exercise library to develop a list of exercises that will spread the work over several working angles. This seems to be the most effective way to build overall development in a particular area. This may also help toward the application of strength in some other areas.

Please let us know if there are any other questions. Good luck with your training!