The neck is one of the most important, yet most fragile areas of the human body. It has a very delicate structure that can be destabilized relatively easily. And this goes especially if you put your neck under constant pressure. Do you know of a sport that puts your neck under constant pressure? We sure do – it’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. There are many moves that specifically target the neck and its delicate structure. That being said, it’s in your best interest to have a strong, healthy neck. And how can you go about this? Well, the answer is simple – you can do some neck strengthening exercises.
BJJ Neck Strengthening exercises
Of course, BJJ in and of itself will strengthen your neck. If you see some of the no-Gi grappling practitioners, in specific, you will see that they have big, strong necks. And this is due to the constant gripping, pushing, and pulling that their necks have to endure while rolling.
That being said, it’s in your best interest to use additional neck strengthening exercises to make your neck even stronger. The best way to go about it is very simple. You will need to move your neck in all the 4 main directions – under resistance. But there is a critically important notion that you must be aware of here.
Many people swear by the effectiveness of neck bridges and the related exercises. In order to do these exercises, you will need to put your head to the ground and then lift your neck with it. You can also do it in all the other directions. However, the jury is out on this one. If you do a bit of research, then you will find out that many doctors and physiotherapists are strongly opposed to this method of exercise. The reason for this is that they believe it can increase the incidence of herniated discs and other related neck injuries. At the same time, some of the greatest martial artists in the world have done this exercise to strengthen their necks. Mike Tyson is one of them – and you can easily see how big a neck he has. A side note – Mike Tyson recently did a neck surgery. We’ll leave you to connect the dots yourself.
Resistance Neck Exercises
A very powerful form of exercise you can do is simple movement in the four directions under restraint. You can use headbands for this or weights or even your own hands. You can put your hand on your forehead and put a resistance against the forward movement of your neck. If you do this, then you will notice that it’s not really easy. Do 20-30 repetitions and you will feel your neck struggling to keep up with this. Now repeat this for the lateral movements of your neck and for moving your neck backward. And there you have it – this is about as simple an exercise routine that you can get for your neck.
Combined with the fact that you will constantly be using your neck for BJJ – we believe that this set of exercises is all you need in order to keep the neck healthy and strong. Of course, we can never guarantee that you will have a foolproof neck – far from it. Even the strongest neck in the world can get injured under the pressure made by some of the more vicious neck cranks of BJJ. It’s just in the nature of the moves – their goal is to ruin the structure of your neck until you tap out. For a visual demonstration of how terrible a neck crank can be – watch the UFC fight between Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Khabib ends the fight with a vicious neck crank and Conor has to tap out or risk getting his neck snapped in half.
If you’re really smart about using your neck in BJJ, then you will definitely be able to increase its health and longevity. Many people dive headfirst in the world of BJJ, not caring about anything else except for getting the W. It’s expected for people to keep up with big levels of pressure in tournaments. What’s not to be expected is for people to give their all in BJJ sparring sessions. You have nothing to lose but your ego if you tap out. If your opponent cranks your neck hard or if you even suspect that he will do so, then don’t even think about it at all – do a tap out. Trust us, the health of your neck is far more important than surviving your opponent’s vicious neck crank without tapping out.
Do the exercises that we’ve mentioned in the previous section and be mindful of the fragile structure of your neck. This is the best way to ensure that your neck will be healthy and strong for a long time to come.
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