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Old 05-13-2014, 06:28 PM   #1
Kaya
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 9
Canada
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Question Strengthening Neck after injury

Hi guys. last year I had a very odd neck injury that doctors couldn't even logically explain. To make long story short my neck is very weak and I was told that I should not do any headstands if I practice yoga or any hard falls and certain falls./rolls in martial arts, unless I can find a way to make my neck and shoulder muscles very strong. I am currently trying to decide on a dojo to join and while my schedule is making it difficult to commit for the next few months, I would like to take this time to strengthen myself so I can practice more safely and freely once I do.

I'm looking for advise on exercises that I may do to strengthen my neck.
My neck is flexible - at least that's a good thing! but I'm a girl so Strengthening is really the keyword here. Growing big muscles on my neck would however be horrible, so if you have any advise just keep in mind I'm not a guy who wouldn't mind growing big

Thanks!
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Old 05-13-2014, 07:04 PM   #2
robin_jet_alt
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 510
Australia
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Re: Strengthening Neck after injury

Well, I'm far from an expert, so if anyone who knows better contradicts me, please follow their advice.

What I would do in your situation, is rather than focusing on strengthening the neck in order to practice, I would practice at a low enough level that my neck could handle it, and gradually increase the intensity to allow my neck to adjust. For instance, in the video below, I would SLOWLY practice the exercises up to the 20 second mark. Don't go beyond that until you are comfortable.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMpBpM38TMg

Actually, here is another video of slow practice.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxkOHw0PKjk

Anyway, that's how I would approach it.

Robin
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Old 05-13-2014, 07:58 PM   #3
Walter Martindale
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Location: Cambridge, ON
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Re: Strengthening Neck after injury

A friend of mine worked as a physical therapist at "National Spine Care" in Calgary where they had a great big machine for strengthening necks.

He put me in it because I've had some injuries - essentially it's a head bracket attached to a bunch of pulleys that allows you to move your head only in the direction you are intended to move it. So - he had me "nod" down and up straight ahead. Turn 45 deg in one direction, nod down and up (repeats of 10 in each direction), turn 45 deg in the other direction, down and up. All the time using the whole range of motion of the neck where possible (I've got a stiff neck in turning to the left). There was also tilt to the side and so on.
It helped while I was doing it.
You could simulate this movement carefully providing LIGHT resistance with your hands and or a towel, but LIGHT resistance is the key - especially when starting.

If you have a trusted physio/neck specialist, see them. If there's a "Canadian Back Institute" nearby, see them - you may have to pay cash or use up valuable health insurance coverage.

At one point, when I was still wrestling, I could neck bridge (three point stance, feet and top of head, chest up) with about 150lb (about 68 kg) on my chest. That strength kept the neck from breaking when I was "pile-drived" in a judo practice but the injury from that has never been right and I can't do those bridges any more.

Hope you're able to strengthen your neck - be careful, be gradual, be persistent.

And... Your concern about getting a big muscular neck - most females don't respond the same as most males to the "androgenic" effect of strength training due to the lower levels of testosterone in females - it shouldn't be a problem.
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Old 05-13-2014, 08:35 PM   #4
dps
Join Date: Apr 2006
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Re: Strengthening Neck after injury

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xC3DPi4UeP4

You can also adjust the band to for tension from the front of the head and both sides.
Be careful, start out with light tension bands and low repetitions.
dps

Last edited by dps : 05-13-2014 at 08:37 PM.
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Old 05-13-2014, 11:12 PM   #5
kewms
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 866
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Re: Strengthening Neck after injury

Contrary to myth, it's pretty hard for women to grow big muscles anywhere. We just don't have the testosterone for it. Besides, while big muscles in your neck might be bad, neck injuries are worse.

The advice you have so far has been good. Just BE CAREFUL. The neck isn't particularly strong to begin with, and you already know that yours is unusually weak.

Katherine
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Old 05-14-2014, 03:36 PM   #6
jbelly
Location: sf bay area, ca
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Re: Strengthening Neck after injury

what did your doctor say about you going to physical therapy or some other type of rehab?
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Old 05-14-2014, 11:04 PM   #7
Kaya
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Join Date: May 2014
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Re: Strengthening Neck after injury

Thank you all for the replies!

@ Robin - I once again agree with you about slow practice. Actually those exrcises make my back and neck feel better Sleeping, working on computer and being in front of a drawing board all day are the things that make me feel worse.

@ Mat - my docs didnt really say much and didnt point me toward anything specific. My osteo gave me few exercises and they did help get me better but I'm certainly still lacking strength and endurance. Everyone basically said that if I do yoga or martial arts I should talk with advanced teacher to get advise on what kind of strengthening I will need depending on what I will do - hard falls or head stands or whatever else and see what they will advise.

@Walter and David - light resistance does look and sound good! it's is something I've been wanting to research. My osteo got me used to working with various resistance bands and applying it to neck does seem like a good idea!

@& finally at Katherine & Walter - about growing muscles - lol ... I have managed to grow too big many years ago (not in my neck though) and it took me looong time to fix it! That's why I was a bit worried about people suggesting machines and some shoulder and neck strengthening excises with weights.
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Old 05-15-2014, 12:43 AM   #8
dps
Join Date: Apr 2006
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Re: Strengthening Neck after injury

Indian Clubs are good for strength and flexibility.

I bought this gentleman's '' Club Swinging Essentials '' DVD on Amazon.com for ten dollars:

http://www.functionalmovement.com/st...ing_essentials.

And I use these people's exercises too.

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=AsW_LFZqAZM

dps
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Old 05-15-2014, 01:01 AM   #9
Kaya
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Join Date: May 2014
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Re: Strengthening Neck after injury

David - I've never seen that ! That looks quite interesting. I can see how it would do wonders to shoulders and posture. Definitely something to look into on a side. (But as I watch it, its SO tempting to throw them! lol)
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Old 05-15-2014, 01:10 AM   #10
dps
Join Date: Apr 2006
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Re: Strengthening Neck after injury

Quote:
Karyna Gergel wrote: View Post
David - I've never seen that ! That looks quite interesting. I can see how it would do wonders to shoulders and posture. Definitely something to look into on a side. (But as I watch it, its SO tempting to throw them! lol)
lol.
I had a flexibility problem with the right side of my neck and shoulder due to a high school wrestling injury for thirty six years. Doctors and physical therapy did not help. After two weeks of daily practice with the Indian clubs the problem was gone.
It also helps with my arthritis.

dps
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Old 05-15-2014, 10:41 AM   #11
jbelly
Location: sf bay area, ca
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Re: Strengthening Neck after injury

"gentle" neck isometric exercises are easy to do and inexpensive
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Old 05-18-2014, 02:48 PM   #12
Kaya
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Join Date: May 2014
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Canada
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Re: Strengthening Neck after injury

@ Mat - isometric exercises are a good idea! Thank you ! I forgot this stuff even exists and its really fitting for my needs.

@ David - I tried it with so weights and then with water bottles filled with sand and I gotta say my shoulders and arms feel awesome! This thing really gets both big and little muscles moving! Thanks!
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Old 05-18-2014, 07:20 PM   #13
dps
Join Date: Apr 2006
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Re: Strengthening Neck after injury

Quote:
Karyna Gergel wrote: View Post
@ Mat - isometric exercises are a good idea! Thank you ! I forgot this stuff even exists and its really fitting for my needs.

@ David - I tried it with so weights and then with water bottles filled with sand and I gotta say my shoulders and arms feel awesome! This thing really gets both big and little muscles moving! Thanks!
.
You are welcome.

I made sevaral in different sizes and weights.
I bought some plastic toy baseball bats at a dollar store, cut a hole in the top and poured some sand into the bat. Then I sprayed some foam insulation on top of the sand to take up the extra space. Then I wrapped duct tape over the hole in the top and down the neck of the bat for a better grip. Works great, it is cheap and the bats are in a variety of sizes and colors.

Follow the instructions on the videos exactly. I did'nt one time and injured the rotator cuff in my right shoulder. Took a couple of months to heal.

dps
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Old 05-24-2014, 05:16 AM   #14
Walter Martindale
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Re: Strengthening Neck after injury

The weights you'd use to strengthen your neck would be very light...I think (and it was a while ago) that I worked up to about 2 lb (under 1 kg) for the heaviest resistance...

One "weight exercise" for your neck - lie on your back with your head/neck off the edge of the bed - move your neck and head through the full "forward/backward" or anterior/posterior movement range, trying to bend throughout the length of the neck, not just at the top of the neck. Too heavy? move farther onto the bed. Too light? do more repetitions for endurance, rather than adding weight.

Interesting that you feel you got "big". During the Phys-Ed degree (it was in the 70s so it may be considered politically incorrect these days) a woman in our "advanced" gymnastics course expressed a concern about getting bulky muscles - the professor said that most women can't grow big muscles like the males do, and added... (here's the P-I part) "Remember girls, under every curve, there's a muscle."
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Old 05-31-2014, 05:16 AM   #15
Walter Martindale
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Re: Strengthening Neck after injury

And now... I sure don't know how but this is the most sore my neck has been since it just about got snapped back in about 1976.. Owwww.
Must take some of my own advice.
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Old 06-01-2014, 08:45 PM   #16
Kaya
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 9
Canada
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Re: Strengthening Neck after injury

Thank you David! Plastic baseball bats are a great idea! and I did notice that it's easy to injure yourself if you don't do it right but when you do do it right it feels great !!!

Walter - Haha ! Nice! I like your professor! I think I got big back in the days because of the combination of training and diet which must have been wrong for what I was trying to achieve. I was kinda crazy back than, working out with ridiculous weights and setting ridiculous goals while not knowing much. Oh well, we live, we learn!
About the resistance, sorry, I'm a bit confused... Where do the weights go, and how did you work that up to 2lb?

p.s. Hope your neck feels better!
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Old 06-01-2014, 09:45 PM   #17
Walter Martindale
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Re: Strengthening Neck after injury

Quote:
Karyna Gergel wrote: View Post
Thank you David! Plastic baseball bats are a great idea! and I did notice that it's easy to injure yourself if you don't do it right but when you do do it right it feels great !!!

Walter - Haha ! Nice! I like your professor! I think I got big back in the days because of the combination of training and diet which must have been wrong for what I was trying to achieve. I was kinda crazy back than, working out with ridiculous weights and setting ridiculous goals while not knowing much. Oh well, we live, we learn!
About the resistance, sorry, I'm a bit confused... Where do the weights go, and how did you work that up to 2lb?

p.s. Hope your neck feels better!
Thanks - one Naproxen and a day working it's mostly better.
If you do the "lie on the bed move your head" exercise, the weight is your head... Lots of repetitions of movements.
If you're attaching anything... ANYTHING... to your head as a weight for strength training, it has to be very light because of the length of the levers involved - you've got a real mechanical disadvantage... Frankly, I'd use gravity, and perhaps your hands pushing - for example - put your hand against your forehead, "nod" down (chin to chest) but slow the "nod" by resisting with your hand. You can do this fore-aft, side-side, at "quarters" - kind of in the eight directions of bokken suburi training, but resistance training for your neck. It's not exciting.. Actually it's pretty boring.. but it does strengthen the little muscles of your neck as well as some of the bigger ones.
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