A few things to chew over
The Pendulum 4 Way Neck
* The maximum bite force of athletes is significantly higher than the bite force of non-athletes.
* Athletes who belong to combative sports such as rugby and judo have higher bite force than most sports in general.
* If you habitually chew on a particular side of your mouth the bite force will be greater than the opposite side.
* There is a significant positive correlation between biting force and grip strength and back strength in athletes.
* There is a strong correlation between biting force and the numbers of chin-ups an athlete can do, the results for the side-step test and even times for the 50 meter dash.
Pendulum 5 Way Neck
At the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine conference in San Diego, Dr. Daniel Herman and his constitutes presented important and interesting findings regarding the concussed athlete. Herman and colleagues examined several sport programs for a five year period, they looked at football, women’s basketball, soccer, and lacrosse. They found that athletes within 90 days of a concussion were 3.79 times more likely to get a muscle or ligament injury. The assumption is that changes in reaction times and decision-making could lead to further trauma.
Once an athlete is injured the rehabilitative process begins so the athlete can 'return to play'. Return to play refers to reentrance to activity safely at a pre-injury level. It is widely known that inadequate rehabilitation after sustaining an injury puts the athlete at further risk.
One of the most frequently occurring conditions in the head and neck area is whiplash. Whiplash appertains to the movement of the head and neck during a collision or other high velocity forces on the body. Excessive forces on the neck are known to cause sprains, strains, varying amounts of soft-tissue damage, as well as concussions.
To have adequate rehabilitation for whiplash or a concussion the athlete must return to pre-injury levels of strength, as well as pass the appropriate neurological evaluation. The conundrum is that the pre-injury levels of neck strength must be known.
Make sure neck training is a part of your exercise program. Knowing the strength levels of an athletes neck is certainly and arguably more important than knowing the values of the bench press, squat or clean.
Get the head and neck Strong and Keep it Strong.
The Pendulum 5 Way Neck Machine
Accessory lifts in a strength training program are considered supplemental and are said to serve or assist in the progress of major exercises.
Mark Berry was a National weightlifing champion and was the U.S. Olympic Weightlifing coach at the 1932 Olympics. Berry was also an author and helped shape how people would rethink the use of a barbell in training. Prior to the 1930's the squat, or deep knee bend was considered just another accessory exercise and was used very little. Berry believed in heavy squats for building bulk and power and placing this exercise as a regular part of ones routine.
Today the squat is commonplace and is an integral part of exercise programs. Mark Berry was also a strong advocate of neck training and like the squat it was a significant part of an exercise regime. He felt the single most important method for success was strengthening the neck and spinal cord. The following is a quote from Berry's work.
Do not treat neck training as an accessory lift. If you want to Get Strong strength train the muscles of the cervical spine.
The Pendulum 5 Way Neck
The longus colli is a thin muscle and tendon structure. It is attached to either side of the cervical spine and the upper three thoracic vertebrae. The longus colli muscle is an active flexor and acts as a stabilizer of the cervical spine during swallowing and coughing.
When injured in sport through direct contact or in a whiplash type incident the spasm post injury effect may contribute to postural issues. These issues affect the strength of other muscular groups or lead to neck related lingering problems. The important point is once injured neck muscles must be rehabilitated.
What is most interesting about the longus colli muscle is that it doesn't have a true antagonist. Muscles in general work in pairs. The 'antagonist' classification is used to describe a muscle that acts in opposition to the specific movement generated by the agonist. Thus the longus colli in a relaxed position is almost completely inactive. This muscle when damaged has a tendency to atrophy severly.
When injured relaxation is a normal part of the recuperative process. Upon returning to activity movement helps in healing and strengthening. Yet the longus colli in many positions still remains almost totally inactive. It is imperative once any head or whiplash type injury occurs muscles must be restored to their normal known measured strength.
Get your neck as Strong as possible. Measure it's strength and always return it to normal pre-injury levels. This is what 'preventative sports medicine' is about.
Anthony Delli-Pizzi was hired as the first strength and conditioning coach in Saginaw Valley State school history. It was a great choice. After years of experience in Division One athletics, Anthony has been able to build SVSU's program from the ground up. In actuality he is building the SVSU athletes from the top down. The first thing you notice upon entering the facility are neck machines. The athletes begin their workouts and end their workouts with a sophisticated head and neck protocol.
In a several part series you will be able to take an in depth look into a program that epitomizes preventative sports medicine.
Pendulum 4 Way Neck Machines at SVSU
The Pendulum Adjustable Cam
Located on the Pendulum cam are adjustment holes that allow a coach to target specific areas of the head and neck to maximize development. In the charts below Coach Delli-Pizzi instructs the athlete which hole settings should be used during each set and the tempo or pace of each rep that should be performed. He also makes sure each rep is paused or held with tension during the movement. Pausing when training the neck is critical for maximum recruitment of fibers, development and important for safety.
In the above workout for neck flexion, the athlete is instructed to use the adjustment holes of 4,8, and 12 on the Pendulum Neck Machine. What this means is that the athlete trains in a range of 10-12 reps in hole number 4. When the athlete can no longer perform a rep he or she quickly moves the face pad adjustment to hole number 8 and performs as many reps as possible then moves the face pad to hole number 12 and continues until a rep can not be completed. A difficult and rewarding routine to Get Strong.
Coach Delli-Pizzi has each athlete begin their workout and end their workout with neck training. This is a valuble method to manage weight room flow. Not only does this method expedite training but it also emphasizes to the athlete the importance of training the head and neck as a natural part of their development as an athlete.
Handles on exercise machines when grasped are related to a postural form that augments the exercise. Holding onto the front handles of a Pendulum 4 Way or 5 Way Neck Machine is the basic position an athlete should be in to properly train neck flexion. After training for 5 or 6 weeks many coaches choose to have their athletes grasp the the seat pad. Being able to shrug during neck flexion allows the trapezius muscles to add momentum to the movement. Holding the seat depresses the traps and makes the exercise more difficult. The weight previously used must be reduced.
Once the seat pad grasping technique is mastered and more neck strength gained, to maximally isolate the flexor group, the athlete holds the gripping rail. The gripping rail is located in the front of the Pendulum seat, in this case behind the lifter. When doing neck flexion, when the hands are behind the athlete, the traps are negated from adding impetus to movement of the head. The weight will be reduced once more yet the athlete will Get Strong.
Holding the Grip Rail on the Pendulum Neck Machine
Photo courtesy of Hard Pressed of Chicago
Body Mass Index commonly referred to as BMI is a number calculated from a person's weight and height. There are many BMI calculators on the internet. BMI provides a reliable indicator of body fatness for most of the population. However, there are many lean athletes and strength training enthusiasts that are heavily muscled whose BMI's are high yet still are very lean. There is also a population of people who naturally do not fit within the calculated index.
None the less we are faced with the reality that obesity is epidemic and is a risk factor for many chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease, depression, and neurodegenerative disease. And we are now understanding that increased adiposity or fatness is associated with decreased brain metabolism and cognitive performance.
A high BMI is associated with lower blood flow to the brain, specifically to the prefrontal cortex, and may negatively impact behaviors associated with this brain region. As mentioned, athletes and strength trained individuals often have high BMI's and are often very lean, yet blood flow to the brain still is an important factor in health.
Peripheral resistance is the force against blood flow. Through exercise we are able to increase body size and alter peripheral resistance. Changing your BMI through exercise and neglecting to train the musculature of the head and neck, that is, the musculature that delivers blood to the brain is not a sound health practice.
All exercise progams should include the brains delivery system. A sound program has head and neck exercises for all individuals whether they are athletes or not. Get Strong and always include head and neck training in an exercise regime.
Looking At Degrees Of Freedom
Coupled cars pulled by a train engine have only one degree of freedom. This limitation on the freedom to vary is because the positions of the cars behind the engine are constrained by the shape of the track. The human head and neck has been portrayed in three dimensional mathematical models with degrees of freedom upwards of 50 degrees. Modeling allows engineers to simulate a wide variety of situations regarding human movement and the effects of impacts upon the cranium.
The complexity of our structure is immense and mimicking our ability to move our head and neck is difficult even with a computer. What makes modeling so difficult is that the number of muscles that generate the required force for a movement are far greater than necessary. It is speculated that there is more musculature available for movement than degrees of freedom in the human head and neck. Thus, there are infinite sets of muscle forces that can satisfy angular requirements and seemingly far greater than necessary.
This means that our head and neck musculature has the ability to substitute if a muscle in a region is injured. This is good and bad, good because if injured you have a tremendous capacity to quickly return to form, bad because injuries linger as we have the ability to substitute sets of muscle forces that can satisfy angular requirements. Being able to perform movements efficiently if some tissue is damaged by using unaffected fibers may mislead doctors and trainers in diagnosing an injury. Often these neck issues from trauma, once seemingly healed show up later, even years later.
It is imperative that once injured you rehabilitate the head and neck region. Our ability to perform at high levels post injury is not always an indication that all is well. It pays to keep strong and Get Strong.
Why We Do What We Do
Gabe Harrington is the Head Strength and Conditioning coach for Colgate University. Gabe speaks out about strength training...Champions.
There are many reasons why a strength coach would have his athletes strengthen the muscles of the head and neck; increased blood flow to the brain, lower concussion risk, and improvement of one’s overall strength just to name a few. Here at Colgate, we recognize all of these, but the number one reason is to PROTECT OUR ATHLETES AGAINST SERIOUS HARM.
In all sports there are inherent risks. Football has an arguably greater risk than any other sport. That means that at some point a player may sustain an injury. Some injuries are minor (sprained ankle, broken finger), some are severe and require surgery (torn ACL, broken femur), and some are catastrophic (cervical spine damage, traumatic brain injury) causing permanent damage to cognitive function, paralysis, and even death.
The job of any strength and conditioning coach has many facets, but first it is building the athlete physically so that he is capable of withstanding the inherent dangers of the sport. This is not an easy process. It takes years to do this properly. The player understands the risk and looks to their coaches to prepare them. Moms and dads turn their children over to us – they TRUST US.
In our week nine game versus Lafayette, our starting middle linebacker, Pat Friel had a close call. He came in as the second man on an open field tackle, hitting the ball carrier with a clean shot. But his head was down – the most dangerous angle to put the cervical spine in upon contact. He lay motionless on the field, his arms and hands frozen at an unnatural angle… He was paralyzed and could not feel or move his hands. We all feared the worst. He was immobilized on a stretcher and taken to the hospital… By the end of the fourth quarter we received word that he had feeling and movement in his hands. Shortly after the game, he WALKED OUT of the hospital with only a concussion. Tests indicated there was no damage to his spine or spinal cord. Pat had one of the strongest necks on our team. As a senior, who strength trained year round for 4 years in the Colgate program, he had an opportunity to gain overall size and strength. With the work he put in, the strength and size gains in his head and neck were stunning.
Pat and Gabe After the Victory
We may never know the time or place when this work we put in will be called upon to save us, but we must be prepared. Pat was prepared. And though he was not able to play in our championship game the following week, he has been cleared to play again this season, and more importantly, he will play with his children one day.
THAT is why we take the time to train the head and neck.
Blue 1 - Blue 5 - Lateral Neck Flexion Routine
Lateral neck flexion is best trained in two distinct movements. Doug Scott the strength coach of the Pingry School in New Jersey color codes his Pendulum 5 Way Neck cam and takes advantage of its shape to train his athletes.
Blue 1 - Blue 5 - Lateral Flexion Routine
Lateral Flexion (Blue 1 hole) x 10--‐12 reps
Immediately move pin
Neck Flexion (Blue 5 hole) x 10--‐12 reps
This program requires a suitable period of previous neck training and should be eased into to Get Strong.