Neck Exercises | Photos and Instructional Exercise Guides

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The neck is located between the skull and the trunk and acts as a conduit for the areas that circulate between them. Some of these key areas consist of the larynx, trachea, esophagus, thyroid and parathyroid glands. There are key muscles in the neck that help with rotation, lateralization and tilting. For sports like football, having strong and developed neck muscles is extremely important due to the high impact this area receives when colliding with other players on the field. The short amount of time it takes to train and stretch your neck can improve athletic performance and help prevent injury. If you suffer from tightness caused by long hours of sitting at your desk during your work day, performing some basic stretching exercises should make your life much more comfortable!

Exercise Guides For Your Neck!

 

Lying Face Down Plate Neck Resistance

Exercise Advice: Lie face down on your stomach on a flat bench with your chest at the top of the bench, allowing for your head and neck to be extended beyond the edge of the bench. Set a light weight (2.5 pounds or less) on the back of your head, holding it in place with both hands. Beginning with your head pointed down, slowly move your head upward as high as you can using only your neck muscles. Return to the start position and repeat.

neck-exercises-lying-face-down-plate-neck-resistance

 

Lying Face Up Plate Neck Resistance

Exercise Advice: Lie on your back on a flat bench with your upper shoulders at the top of the bench, allowing for your head and neck to be extended beyond the edge of the bench. Set a light weight (2.5 pounds or less) on your forehead, holding it in place with both hands. Beginning with your head back and down, slowly move your head upward as high as you can using only your neck muscles. Return to the start position and repeat.

neck-exercises-lying-face-up-plate-neck-resistance

 

Circular Motions

Exercise Advice: This exercise is great for stretching out your neck and getting loose. Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart and simply roll your head around in a large circular motion. Do this for about 5 repetitions and then reverse directions and repeat the opposite way.

neck-exercises-circular-motions

 

Head Forward Backward

Exercise Advice: This exercise is great for stretching out your neck and getting loose. Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart and simply nod your head forward and down as far as possible. From there, rock your head up and back as far as possible.

neck-exercises-forward-backward

 

Head Shoulder Tilt

Exercise Advice: This exercise is great for stretching out your neck and getting loose. Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart and simply turn your head from side to side as far as you can each way.

neck-exercises-head-shoulder-tilt

 

Head Side To Side

Exercise Advice: This exercise is great for stretching out your neck and getting loose. Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart and simply move your head from side to side so as to try to touch your left ear to your left shoulder and your right ear to your right shoulder.

neck-exercises-head-side-to-side

 

Isometric Front and Back

Exercise Advice: For the front exercise, place your hands flat on your forehead. Next, firmly push your forehead forward against your hands. The key to this exercise is to not allow your forehead to move forward so as to create and maintain constant tension on your neck muscles. Continue pushing forward for a 10 second count and then relax and switch to the back or rear part of this exercise. For the rear exercise, begin by clasping your hands behind you head. Next, firmly push the back of your head against your hands. The key to this exercise is to not allow your head to move backward so as to create and maintain constant tension on your neck muscles. Continue pushing for 10 seconds and then relax and switch to the front part of this exercise and repeat.

neck-exercises-isometric-front-back

 

Isometric Sides

Exercise Advice: Place your right hand flat on the side of your head. Next, firmly push your head against your right hand. The key to this exercise is to not allow your head to move so as to create and maintain constant tension on your neck muscles. Continue pushing against your right hand for a 10 second count and then switch to the left side and repeat the exercise.

neck-exercises-isometric-sides

 

Seated Towel Neck Resistance

Exercise Advice: Grab a small to medium-sized towel and fold it length-wise several times. Sit on a bench or chair and lean forward slightly. Wrap the towel around the back of your head and hold the ends of the towel with each hand. Perform this exercise by simply moving your head up and down while providing constant resistance with the towel.

neck-exercises-seated-head-towel-neck-resistance

 

Standing Towel Neck Resistance

Exercise Advice: Grab a small to medium-sized towel and fold it length-wise several times. Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart and lean forward slightly. Wrap the towel around the back of your head and hold the ends of the towel with each hand. Perform this exercise by simply moving your head up and down while providing constant resistance with the towel.

neck-exercises-standing-head-towel-neck-resistance

 

Background Information About The Neck Muscles

Cutaneous Muscle of the Neck
These muscles are located in the anterolateral region of the neck and lower face. Their origin is found in the skin covering the acromion and the different regions which include the deltoids and sub-clavicular. It is inserted into the fibers of the two cutaneous muscles intersected between the midline and ending in the chin region of the skin, just at the lower edge of the lower jaw which is continued with the external fibers of the triangular lips and cheek.

It is able to mobilize regions of skin, but is rather vestigial, since it cannot mobilize wide regions. It has an important functionality since it is fixed to the external jugular vein and keeps it open, preventing collapse. It promotes venous return through this vein.

The cutaneous muscle is innervated by a cervicofacial branch of the facial, irrigated by the superior thyroid artery. Its action is to pull the chin down, lower the corner of the lips and can extend and fold the skin of the neck.

Sternocleidomastoid Muscle
The origin of this muscle is obliquely located in the upper part of the thorax to the mastoid process. It is formed by two portions. The sternal fascia that is detached from the anterior face of the manubrium by means of a strong tendon that widens backwards until the external face of the mastoid process and the curved upper line of the occipital.

The function of the sternocleidomastoid muscle includes:

  • Bilaterally: Extension of the head.
  • Unilaterally: Homolateral inclination (on the same side of the muscle) and contralateral rotation.

The clavicular fascicle is inserted into the inner part of the clavicle by going vertically upwards and inserting itself at the edge of the mastoid process. This muscle is innervated by the spinal and cervical plexus. It allows you to bend your head over your spine and tilt it down which includes a rotating movement (towards the opposite side).

Scalene Muscles
The origin of these triangular muscles are located on each side of the neck and consist of three areas which include the anterior, middle and the posterior scalene. The anterior scalene is inserted into the anterior tubers of the spine from the third to the sixth cervical vertebra, just below the single tendon within the Lisfranc’s tubercle of the first rib.

They act as elevators of the first two ribs and are fixed points of support for the cervical spine. Taking the thorax as a fixed point of support, the cervical spine is tilted to its side and gives it a slight rotation that directs the face towards the opposite side.

The middle scalene is inserted above the anterior tubers of the last 6 cervical and under the first two ribs. The anterior scalene muscle is inserted into the anterior transverse tubers of the third to the sixth cervical and is located below the second rib.

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