Do we do enough neck strengthening?

Training the neck is a very underutilized aspect of training and is lacking in most programming. For anyone involved in contact and collision sports, such as boxing and football, training the neck should be an integral part of their training programs.

For many sports neck strength should be strong in all directions such as martial arts, football and hockey. For example in boxing when someone is copping a left hook to the nose we need eccentric neck flexion strength to absorb the neck extension forces.

Training the neck for strength and stability can help prevent injuries.


A thick strong neck is vital for preventing concussions as well. We see concussions more and more frequently in sports and it is important to start thinking about training the neck on a more regular basis to help combat these injuries.

If you know Gray Cooks concept of the joint-by-joint approach we know that the cervical spine is much like the lumbar spine, we need more stability-based training. As we know that the lower back needs a lot of stability training the neck is part of our spine and we should also treat the neck the same way.

One way we look at training the for the cervical spine is making sure that the neck is in optimal alignment for basic exercises such as the squats, dead-lifts, push ups and planks during these exercises is often where we see poor posture such as forward heard, chin protrusion, and cervical hyper extension.

The neck is strongest in extension, then lateral bending, then flexion, and then rotation. Rotational neck strength is quite weak so it might be valuable to train this action in an isometric or dynamic fashion.

What can you do to strengthen your neck?

  • If you play any contact sports speak to your coach about incorporating some neck strengthening exercises relevant to your sport.
  • Speak to an Accredited Exercise Physiologist who can provide you with specifics programs in terms of neck strengthening.