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Old 09-08-2004, 12:31 PM   #1
Jonathon Edward
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Last week, around Thursday, I was in the middle of my own WOD creation. I was on the incline bench, with 60 lb DBs and in the middle of a rep, my whole upper neck tensed up and I felt a shooting pain through the back of my neck and up into my head (about a month ago I injured the left side of my neck, almost the same place, same type pain, while doing deadlifts. Not sure what the hell is wrong with me). My neck just about locked up and my head started throbbing/pounding near my neck. I've tried to work out a couple times since then and no matter what I do, my upper neck (almost at my skull) tightens up and I get throbbing pains through my neck and in the back/bottom of my head (near where the neck muscle connect. I'm not really sure what to do at this point - I don't have insurance - but I might just end up going to see a Doctor. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks a bunch.

-Jonathon
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Old 09-12-2004, 05:22 AM   #2
Steve Shafley
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Jonathon,

My opinion is that your neck is weak. As an aspiring BBJ roller, you need a strong one, plus, having a strong neck might save your life someday. I experience similar problems when I neglect neck work entirely, often while jerking or push pressing a heavy weight. I would look into Bonnie Pruden's "Myotherapy" book or a book called "The Trigger Point Workbook", since I've found that working the trigger points around the neck, traps and skull to be effective for relieving spasms like that. To be honest, I don't think they've ever been that bad for me. One immediate thing you should try is neck retractions. This is pulling your head back and tucking your chin down somewhat (think about how chickens walk and move their heads, the rearward motion of the chicken walk head is what you are trying for). This is a direct and general recommendation of a physical therapist named Matt Spiller, who's pretty damn sharp about this and a Crossfitter as well.

Here are some progressions in exercises to help with strengthing it.

NEVER FORCE ROM WITH WEIGHTED NECK EXERCISES.

1. Manual neck work: Bill Starr, a prominent strength coach and Iron Game author recommends to his football players to perform manual neck extensions, flexions, and side-to-sides in the shower each morning. He recommends sets of 30-50 repetitions if I remember correctly.

2. Neck extensions and flexions with added weight. Just take a plate, wrap it up in a towel. Sit down on a bench and hold the plate to the back of your head, lean over ~45 degrees or so, and do neck extensions with the plate. Then lay down on the bench, facing upwards, with your head hanging off the bench, and do neck flexions with the plate resting on your forehead.

3. Neck harness work: I'd recommend the Headstrap Fit For Hercules from Ironmind as a durable and comfortable neck harness, but the leather ones work fine as well. This is used for flexion and extension with heavier weights (with a loading pin or a cable stack and carbiner attachement). Also, neck lifts, where you hold the neck in a straight up and down position and lift heavier and heavier weights can be done. The neck lifts are a more advanced exercise, and shouldn't be done when you are injured, and probably not until you have strengthened your neck some.

4. Bridging: I, personally, have found bridging to work very well for neck pain. This is very individual, as it can really bother some people. As a grappler, you should get familiar with bridging on the top and back of your head, both facing upwards and downwards. Start with your hands assisting you and progress towards no hands. Wrestlers do a lot of bridging. You want a combination of mobility and strength. The Matt Furey (of Combat Conditioning and crazed ad copy fame) bridging style with the forehead and nose rotating back and touching the floor works well for me, but does require a certain amount of prerequisite strength and flexibility, and has an certain amount of inherent risk involved. Scott Sonnon's neck roll is another exercise you can investigate, since I know you post over there as well.



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Old 09-13-2004, 12:26 PM   #3
Jonathon Edward
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Wow, Steve, awesome info! Thanks a lot for taking the time to put all that into a post!

-Jonathon
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