Improving Neck Strength to Reduce Head Injuries in Sports

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that around 173,285 of emergency room visits in the United States is sports-related, including concussions. Traumatic brain injuries can develop from excessive head trauma, and contact sports are no stranger to them.
The medical team at ONE Brain and Spine Center takes special precautions when treating patients who suffer from traumatic brain injuries. Offering the best brain and spine care to the residents of Irvine, Dr. Burak Ozgur works to better care for each individual patient.
Albany Medical College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute researchers recently found a connection between neck strength difference and angular head acceleration caused from a ball to head impact. Also in their findings, they concluded that there was a trend for linear head acceleration.
In determining their conclusions, the researchers examined a college soccer video. They were able to use a motion capture system to measure extensor strength and neck flexor strength. Based off their results, athletes can reduce the risk of brain injury by using balanced neck strength.
With balanced neck strength, a player is virtually able to minimize head acceleration. Researchers in sports including football, rugby, lacrosse, and soccer have been trying to figure out a way to do this for many years. In this case, soccer was the main focus. The evidence from the study says that heading a ball, a player’s head size, and a player’s neck strength are all risk factors for head injury.
A number of experts and physicians believe that by strengthening the neck, an athlete can reduce the risk of a concussion, or more severe head injury. Based off the research, more coaches and physical therapists are incorporating neck-strengthening exercises into their programs. Here are a couple exercises that are easy and don’t require much equipment:

  • Shrugs. A resistance exercise performed with barbells or dumbbells. Hold a dumbbell weight in each hand, raise your shoulders, and then slowly relax to your starting position.
  • Dumbbell press. Raise your elbows so that they are even with your shoulders and flexed at 90 degrees. Raise the dumbbell straight up by straightening the elbow. Return to starting position.

For more information on how to protect your neck, spine, and brain from serious injury, contact a medical professional at ONE Brain and Spine Center, today!
ONE Brain & Spine Center is the premier spine and brain center in Irvine, California, offering minimally invasive spine surgeries and minimally invasive orthopedic surgeries. For more information or to make an appointment, please call (949) 383-4190.
The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.

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