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Neck Strengthening For Concussions

Research indicates that neck strengthening can actually prevent concussions.

Dawn Comstock, PhD, currently an associate professor in the Dept. of Epidemiology at The Colorado School of Public Health, presented some research, which is relevant to soccer athletes.  According to Comstock's research, her findings from a data collection of 6,704 high school athletes revealed that for every pound of increased neck strength, and athlete can reduce the risk of concussion by approximately 5 percent. This is a very important finding since this is one aspect that an athlete can have some control over.

Generally defined, concussions occur when any blow to the head causes the brain to make contact with the skull with little cushioning provided by the cerebrospinal fluid. Comstock goes further. In an interview with Athletic Business, Comstock states, "our neck acts like a shock absorber. As the head rocks back and forth, it's also twisting a little bit on the brain stem, and it's those accelerative and rotational forces as the brain is impacting inside the skull that are really what's causing these concussions." Comstock goes on to discuss that strengthening the neck can give an athlete the ability to control these acceleration and rotational forces. While more research has to be done with regards to what exercises would be best to effectively strengthen the neck, some athletes are already taking steps to do so and incorporating neck strengthening into their fitness programs. Comstock herself recommends applying self resistance and using your hand to apply resistance to your head as a way to strengthen your neck. More recently, the Halo has been introduced to as a specific neck strengthening tool to prevent concussions. This new device focuses on strengthening the neck through an entire 360 degree range of motion. The Halo workout is being integrated into strength and conditioning facilities such as Compete Sports Performance & Rehab.

Resources:

Steinbach, Paul. "Sports Injury Expert Dawn Comstock Talks Concussion Prevention."Athletic Business. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 July 2013.
Marar, Mallika, BS McIlvain, Natalie,  JD, PhD Fields, Sarah, Ph D.Comstock, Dawn, "Epidemiology of Concussions Among High School Athletes in 20 Sports"AJSM PreView, published on January 27, 2012
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