Muscles of the neck are easily taken for granted. That is, until an injury occurs to the head or neck. Even just typing at your desk for an hour a day can put you at risk of pain if you have a habit of jutting your head forward.
Many gyms offer specially designed machines or head harnesses (or both) for strengthening the neck muscles. Ask your gym's trainer or owner for assistance in using them. If your gym doesn't have a specific machine or device for this, there are other options. This article will show you how to strengthen your neck using little or no equipment.
These following three exercises need no equipment at all and can help strengthen the neck to relieve pain. They can be done just about anywhere - at your desk, in the car, standing in line, or while watching TV - and are simple to perform.
- NECK FLEXION This exercise can be done either while sitting or standing. If you choose to stand, maintain good posture - no slouching! - throughout the exercise. Begin by placing the palm of your hand on your forehead while looking straight ahead. Use of either hand is acceptable though your dominant hand may provide better resistance.
Bend your head forward while tucking your chin toward your chest. Oppose this movement of your head by pushing backward with your palm. Maintain this stronghold position for two seconds (or longer for more of a challenge). Slowly return to the starting position.
- NECK EXTENSION As with the neck flexion exercise, this one can be done either in a sitting or standing position. Begin by placing the palm of your hand on the back of your head while looking straight ahead. Bend your head backward while lifting your chin up. Oppose this movement by pushing forward with your palm. Maintain this stronghold position for at least two seconds, and then carefully return to the starting position.
- NECK LATERAL FLEXION In a sitting or standing position, place your left palm on the left side of your head. As you bend your left ear toward your left shoulder, oppose this movement with pressure from your palm. Maintain this stronghold position for at least two seconds, and then slowly return to the starting position. Repeat on your right side.
A set of each exercise can quickly be done during each workday to relieve built-up stress. Alternatively, these exercises can be done once a week as part of your regular strength training program. Do three or more sets of each, just like with any other body part. Practice good posture and do these exercises regularly; you'll feel the difference!