Respect Your Neck

Rumor on the street is this has been a tough week of WODding.  How's your body coping?  Any ached or pains?  What about that neglected part of your body on top of your shoulders.....

Neck strain is actually one of the more common injuries athletes face in CrossFit.  Understanding what causes cervical strain and how to prevent is important to the longevity of any CrossFit career.


The Lifts

While lifting, we place a lot of demands on our body, especially our backs.  To be at your best, not to mention injury free, we tell you to get into position (tight and neutral) and to imagine your spine being replaced with an iron rod.  And all of this happens before you even get the bar off the rack.  But people seem to forget their spines run all the way from your tailbone to your skull.  So even though you worked so hard to get tight to take that big lift, when you look to your coach for support, check on your feet or look to the ceiling for help from above anytime after that bar is on your back(or mid-lift), your neck is in flexion or extension.  This means your strong neutral spine position is lost ... and once a position is lost under load, it can't be reclaimed.

With overhead movements, and kettlebell swings, the strain comes from the top of the lift when an athlete exaggerates the cue "get your head through the window."  Perhaps a more accurate cue would be "squish your face hard against the glass on the window," or simply "put your head back to neutral."   Either way, be careful not to throw your head so far between your arms that you are chicken necking and getting into bad positioning.

Body Weight Movements

Once a WOD begins, it's go time.  You want to get through it, sweat it out, and be done with it.  However, you cannot let this overwhelming desire persuade you to allow your neck to do the reps for you.  That is only a good recipe to strain your neck. On a push up, for example, don't strain your neck forward to get your nose to the ground, keep dropping until your chest hits instead.  On a pull up, keep your head neutral and take the time to pull the extra couple of inches instead of craning your neck to reach your chin over the bar.

A Little Neck TLC

Here is a video to handle some neck issues you might incur from posture faults or strains: