Say No to Chicken Neck

You're set up for a heavy deadlift. You're nice and tight: your trunk feels like one piece, a strong, straight line. You taste the weight. This is going to be tough.  You don't jerk the weight off the ground - a rookie mistake - liftoff is strong and steady. But crap, it's heavy. In fact, it's not really going anywhere. "Up," you think and lift your face towards the heavens. Suddenly your pelvis rounds, your straight line resembles an orange slice, and your lift crashes to the ground as your mouth lets rip a deafening "Noooooooooooooooooo!"

What happened? You chicken necked. Also known as cervical hyperextension. You gave away your nice, straight spine when your head went back. The neck is part of the spine, right?  Right. The spine should be in neutral position when deadlifting, right? Right. So why give that away by throwing your head back? Chicken necking is not only wrong and unattractive, it opens you up to potential injury. Loss of neutral spine during a lift puts great stress on your spinal discs and can cause a herniation. So be kind to your back and keep your neck in check.

Chicken necking isn't limited to deadlifts. We see this in other lifts too. So stay alert: any time we say "straight back" or "neutral spine" - this means your neck too!

Found on the interwebs: Chicken neck and a rounded back. Don't be this guy!

Found on the interwebs: Chicken neck and a rounded back. Don't be this guy!

Olivia Graff

Olivia's athletic origins lie in gymnastics and circus arts. After finding CrossFit in 2007, she became obsessed, and three years later left her IT career and opened United Barbell. Olivia is particularly passionate about helping people new to fitness to find joy in their growing athletic abilities. Since the birth of her daughter, Isis, in 2013, Olivia can add helping little ones find their athletic path to her list of passions.