How to build a stronger neck

Categories: Fitness

As well as something to adorn with a suitably sharp bowtie, your neck is a veritable expressway of nerves running from your brain to your body. Here’s our guide to why this important area of your body might not be working at its peak and how you can rectify it.

If your neck’s not strong, you’re not strong

Research published by Sage found that people who suffered from tension headaches were 26 per cent weaker in the neck area than controlled subjects. Not only that but they also remarked upon a 12 per cent reduction in their extension and flexion ratio, which is bad news when you want to keep eye contact with a passing young lady.

Posture

How a gentleman carries himself is everything, and your posture is essential to this. So many chronic pains and stiffness can be put down to poor posture, but simply walking with your shoulders back, sitting up straight and not tilting your neck to text all the time are all simple fixes that will strengthen your muscles and alleviate any problematic areas.

At your desk

Let’s face it, where you spend the other half of your life must be addressed. Nowadays most offices will have a workplace assessment to ensure your monitor and seat are at the correct distances away from you, and your seat height is also at the correct level. It will also minimise the straining of your neck as your crane forward to pore over those spreadsheets.

Matt Roberts, celebrity personal trainer and writer of our own essential fitness programmes, has some advice as to the other areas you can try in your workouts which in turn will help support the area.

“Focus on the shoulder blades and muscles in the back rather than trying to work into the neck, where most people will tend to hold their stress anyway“ says Roberts. “Desk-bound individuals often have shorter pectoral muscles due to the continuous seated position. In this case we try to elongate the pectoral muscles so that the shoulders can sit in the right position. By focusing on the muscles in your mid and lower back and shoulders, we can create more stability, structure and strength in the neck.”

Fitness fixes

Strength coach expert Glenn Coburn suggests prioritising pecs and shoulder workouts as neck muscles get tight from overuse, for example texting and sitting at a desk. “Spend 5 minutes a day stretching prior to strengthening the neck muscles with high repetition banded or cable work, 20-25 reps with a moderate resistance for 3-5 sets. 

Start with cable face pulls followed by a banded read fly, then move on to single arm cable pull downs (lat exercise but good to balance out). Then, finish with pronated (face down) bench shrugs (45 degree angle bench, squeeze shoulders blades together and up).” Coburn says exercises such as this will strengthen your muscles and help improve posture at the front and back of the body.

Tension-releasing techniques

It’s a pain in the proverbial to massage oneself, so seek out a good osteopath or chiropractor who offers Active Release Techniques and can work on the soft tissue in your upper body and shoulder blades to release any tension and pain in your neck and spinal area.

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