>Protect your Neck
>It is the most important muscle group when you are a baby and as your grow as a child, yet it is taken for granted as we get older.
The importance of having strong neck muscles should not be overlooked even after they have strengthened enough to simply support our heads. Having the surrounding muscle groups of your neck strong beyond that level can literally help save your life.
Your neck is there to support and stabilize your head in the proper alignment of the cervical spine (upper vertebrae of the spine to the base of the skull). With its lesser amount of surrounding musculature than other parts of the body, which also tends to be weaker than it should be, and because of its wide range of motion, it is very vulnerable to injury if not protected. Whether your play or compete in a particular sport, or even just drive in a car (hello whiplash!), it is a very good idea to protect your neck in advance. With some simple exercises you can prevent any detrimental injuries to your cervical spine by helping to strengthen this area and sort of cushion it as well.
This particular area of the body is comprised of several different muscles but the main ones we will focus on are the trapezius muscles (upper, middle and lower), levator scapulae and the sternocleidomastoid.
For this particular discussion, as a group the trapezius muscles on the neck are basically responsible for cervical/ head flexion, extension, left and right flexion and extension and cervical circumduction. The traps are a decent sized muscle group that span from your thoracic spine to your cervical spine and your shoulder joints, so you see how this is an important group to target.
The levator scapulae is responsible for left and right rotation of the head, assist in right and left flexion of the cervical spine (and scapular movements, hence the name of the muscle).
The sternocleidomastoid runs for the most part from your clavicle and sternum to the base of your skull and is responsible for right and left, anterior and posterior neck flexion and extension, as well as neck rotation.
As an entire group, your neck muscles are so important that you must strengthen them to assist in certain activities without looking like a massive meat head. They quite literally keep your head on straight with any form of impact.
Because this area is fairly delicate, it is important to train this area with good form and within your means – Be careful!
Some great exercises to strengthen this area are:
•Shrugs – with light weight to begin and using either dumbbells or a barbell.
•Isometric Head Presses – with a forward, reverse and side movement.
•Chin-to-chest – Lie on your back on a bench with your head hanging slightly over the edge and you simply, repeatedly, in a controlled manner bring your chin to your chest.
•Parallels – lie on your stomach, perform a similar movement as above but this time you will be bring your chin towards the ground and back up to parallel (NEVER go beyond parallel!)
Start with these exercises without any weight and as you get stronger you can add small increments of extra resistance.