Resilience is Victory

My dad called it getting clocked. During 40 seasons of rugby I saw stars come out in the daytime more than once. I know what it is to get clocked, to get my bell rung. Some seasons I played a bit in the front row where a strong neck was vital to withstand the pressures of scrumming. Every winter I would spend a certain amount of time lifting weights with a strap wrapped around my head, it worked well for the dimensions I could get at, clearly it was limited. I realize now it helped reduce the severity of concussions and helped me keep playing the game.

My neck was always strong. Growing up I remember often wrestling after school with a couple of friends. I probably played one contact sport or another almost everyday.  I remember doing neck bridges easily in high school at Football and Wrestling practice. There wasn’t much thought given to concussion prevention in 70s, just made sense to coaches that necks were involved in contact and they should be as strong as possible.

40 years later we’re smarter about concussions and training. We know a strong neck that can resist whiplash in all dimensions will better dampen concussive impact. The NFL in particular have a big problem with this and trainers have been developing approaches for reducing concussions. Understanding has evolved  now we recognize concussions are a matter of degree and neck strength can help lessen the impact forces that damage the brain.

The approach shown in the video here is simple. This exercise uses the gradual increase of force caused by stretching elastic resistance to create a steady controllable load on the neck that is ideal for safely training strength and stability in all dimensions. This approach can train many more dimensions than neck bridges or lifting weight with a head strap.

 The keys to this training are – ideal anchor position is at head height, place a strap around the head connected to the elastic resistance (easiest to do this and keep the strap in place by starting with slight resistance ), take an athletic stance , while keeping a neutral spine lunge away from the anchor, change orientation to the anchor to create resistance in all directions – the further from the anchor the greater the resistance, train reps and/or train isometrically, keep movements slow and controlled.

“It’s not how hard you can hit, it’s hard you can get hit and get back up” -Rocky Balboa.