Monday, June 6, 2011
NECK and NECK
Very few people consider the importance of the neck in terms of health, fitness and appearance. Other cultures may actually focus on the neck in ways that are not particularly healthy, however they are interesting.
From the safety standpoint, having a stronger neck can protect you from trauma. We have all heard of the simplest of accidents that resulted in broken necks. However when properly trained, the neck is capable of dealing with tremendous punishment. The following video is indicative of a frightening trauma which had no effect on the subject. Mixed martial arts champion Fedor Emelianko was thrown and he landed full force, head first and under the weight of another combatant. He actually continued unaffected and won the fight minutes later. This is an incredible video clip.
This example is extreme but shows the amazing resiliency of the human body. Please do not try this at home.
In terms of youthfulness and general appearance the neck is far more apparent than almost everyone is aware. Take a look at a healthy young neck.
It is devoid of sun damage and has adequate muscle. Now following is a young woman who's lack of strength training and dietary protein has caused atrophy of the same muscles. Please compare.
This comparison is not isolated to women. Men have extreme variations in adaptation as well. First is an intense, intense, neck strengthening program to produce extreme results.
The next is the result of eating too many calories. Some body types store lots of fat in the neck and face area.
The immediate cure is to adopt a reduced calorie diet. For best results consider this resource.
The simple process of aging results in a slow loss of muscle tissue. The loss can easily be diminished, halted or reversed by appropriate strength training and adequate nutrition. This photo perhaps is a classic example that we associate with the aged population.
So we are well aware of the various appearances the neck can take on and some of the results are rather extreme. The easiest one of course is to protect the skin from the sun with some sort of sun block. While absorbing Vitamin D from the sun is the current rage, no one is suggesting that repeated tanning or repeated burns to the body and particularly the neck is healthy.
The next thing to do is to ensure at least a minimum of exercise. The neck has ample muscle and weak muscles respond well to training. Below is a graphic showing the musculature of the neck. All those tight, weak, muscles can cause head aches and shoulder aches. The best cure is prevention. The best prevention is adequate exercise.
Below is a chart with some simple exercises. Remember that any exercise should be first cleared with a physician who is familiar with fitness and training. These exercises are great introductory movements to simply restore mobility and youthful movement. -Click the photo to enlarge it-
There will come a time when simple movements will not be enough. Actually using external resistance will be required. This resistance can come in the form of barbells, dumbbells or kettlebells. Even resistance bands can be rigged to provide neck exercise. Here is a link to some instructional dvds that cover basic strength and advanced methods of training. LINK
There are more severe exercises such as the "Wrestlers Bridge" that require instruction under the guidance of an experienced coach. The combination of resistance and flexibility give this exercise plenty of bang for the buck,.. but it is not for everyone.
Now armed with powerful imagery, anatomy and instruction we only need motivation. Certainly turning back the clock of Father Time should be motivation enough. If detailed coaching is needed, please feel free to contact me.