How To Improve Neck Mobility Part I
The neck is a touchy thing and trying to improve (and maintain) your neck mobility should always be front of mind.
I actually wrote a blog that addressed the damages of sitting here. The neck has been referred to as "The fuse box" for the rest of the body meaning...
it has a direct impact on the rest of our body, particularly the shoulders and grip. If at any time we notice any stiffness in the shoulder or we notice a reduction in grip strength...
9 times out of 10 it's stemming from the neck.
Poor posture from either sitting all day or from our particular sport is the likely cause for poor neck mobility.
For every inch our neck shifts forward, we add 10 pounds of pressure to our spine and neck.
This is known as "Forward head posture".
Which can lead to many other issues like:
- Chronic Back pain
- Chronic headaches
- Frozen Shoulder
- and more...
Based on clinical observations at Dr. Austin Oolo’s clinic...
After treating thousands of frozen shoulders in patients for over 35 years, he noticed 3 common denominators in patients suffering with adhesive capsulitis frozen shoulder.
- Lower neck disc pathology or nerve compression Frozen Shoulder almost always occurs in patients with lower neck disc conditions or muscle contraction conditions which compress the nerves supplying the shoulder and arm with motor and sensory information. (eg. thoracic outlet syndrome.)
- Hormonal imbalance Frozen shoulder always occurs in those with hormonal imbalances such as menopause, diabetes, thyroid, adrenal stress, testosterone imbalance, etc...
- Shoulder strain injury (usually undetected by patient.)
This gist of Dr. Oolo's theory is...
Discs in the lower neck or other neck conditions first exist (like forward head posture) which results in compression of the nerves in the lower neck.
This compression leads to interference with the transmission of motor signals to the muscles of the corresponding shoulder.
So, if our shoulders are not getting the right signal because of this interference the result is a much weaker shoulder and eventually weaker grip strength.
Why is this important to you?
Well, if you currently enjoy pressing or snatching kettlebells yet have a stiff neck (from poor neck mobility) do to your daily lifestyle or sport then...
You're leaving strength on the table by doing what Gray Cook calls, Putting fitness on top of disfunction.
Here's the crazy part...
This condition (frozen shoulder) is often undetected/asymptomatic...
However, Dr. Oolo did noticed patients in its (frozen shoulder) advanced stages to have symptoms of neck pain, upper shoulder pain, elbow/forearm pain, neck stiffness, headaches, or numbness in the hands.
All of this simply because of forward head posture from our lifestyle and or our sporting activities.
In today I will show you...
how to reset/restore neck mobility to improve the strength, mobility and endurance of your shoulders and grip...
Today's post is focused on the 3 particular neck movements I take my students through prior to lifting, especially for over-head lifting:
- Protraction and retraction
You will be performing these movements with the assistance of a kettlebell, here are the sizes that I recommend:
➣ Ladies: 8 - 16kg
➣ Gentlemen: 16 - 24kg
Bring the kettlebell behind your back and hold it with the hook of your hands.
The weight of the kettlebell will pull the shoulders away from your neck and allow you to take your neck through several ranges of motions starting with...
Exercise #1: Flexion and extension
Keeping your tongue on the roof of you mouth and leading with your eyes...
Inhale through your nose and look up at the ceiling (extension).
Next, exhale through your nose and bring your chin to your chest (flexion).
Go on to repeat this for 10-20 reps.
Exercise #2: Head Rotations
Again, keeping your tongue on the roof of your mouth and leading with your eyes...
Inhale and as you exhale look over your shoulder as if looking behind your back.
Repeat for 10-20 reps per side.
(Left and right equals 1 rep)
Exercise #3: The Chicken Neck
This one sounds silly but, you're gonna love it!
Same as exercises 1 and 2, keep your tongue on the roof of your mouth... This time you will now lead with your chin and protract your neck forward.
Inhale and then tuck your chin into your chest (as if giving yourself a double chin... sorry ladies).
Repeat for 10-20 reps.
Perform as many round you see fit or until you feel you have better range of motion and control of your neck.
You should now be ready to practice whatever particular shoulder mobility drills or over-head strength training that you have scheduled.
I highly encourage you to go through this neck mobility flow prior to any over-head work, especially if you've been sitting for most of the day.
The neck is the fuse box for the rest of your body and if you have poor neck mobility because of your posture from your lifestyle or sport...
It will bleed over to your shoulders, grip and more.
Causing you to leave strength on the table.
Give this a try and let me know how it goes.