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Maximize Range Of Motion - Neck Extension

The trapezius muscle is complex and is involved in many functions, posturally it is a counterbalance against the forward flexion of the head, due to the head's slight anterior center of gravity in relation to it's axis. The trapezius elevates the pectoral girdle, rotates the scapula upwards, retracts the scapula, depresses the shoulders - it is involved in side flexion of the neck, axial rotation of the upper thoracic spine and extension.

For safety, when we are startled, we quickly shrug elevating our shoulders using our traps to safeguard our head by not allowing the occiput to be thrust backwards. This movement is natural and reflexive. Training on a neck machine we unconsciously elevate our shoulders as a protective mechanism restricting the normal range of motion of neck extension. To maximize neck strength hold the handle in front of the Pendulum 4 or 5 Way Neck machine's seat pad or hold on to the bottom of the seat pad which depresses the traps. Keeping the shoulders down during neck extension strength will grow quickly.......use good form to Get Strong.

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 The Pendulum 5 Way Neck Machine

Topics: Pendulum 5 Way Neck, Pendulum 4 Way Neck, Neck training

Helmet Load

Advanced combat helmets, night vision goggles, forward head posture from carrying heavy loads, G forces when flying, all effect neck muscle strain and over time can promote neck pain. These activities leave military veterans with more cervical complaints than the normal population. It is extremely important that neck strengthening protocols are included in exercise regimes for military personnel and neck strengthening a life long pursuit. 

To improve neck muscle strength and endurance there is no better exercise device than the Pendulum 4 and 5 Way Head and Neck Machines.

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Reduce Helmet Load and it's Effect by Increasing Neck Strength.

 

Topics: Pendulum 5 Way Neck, Pendulum 4 Way Neck, Neck training, Manual Resistance

Notre Dame Athletics

Notre Dame upgrades their Strength Training Facility

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Pendulum 5 Way Head and Neck Machines

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Pendulum Combo Lat Pulldowns 

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Pendulum Hip Presses and Pendulum Seated Squats
 
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Pendulum 3 Way Rows

Topics: Pendulum Seated Squat, Pendulum 5 Way Neck, Pendulum 4 Way Neck, Pendulum Hip Press, Pendulum 3 Way Row, Pendulum Squat Pro, Pendulum Combo Lat Pull

Technology Age And Coaching

The semispinalis capitis is a posterior neck muscle with a long moment arm that functions as a main head and neck extensor. Acting unilaterally the semispinalis capitis rotates the neck to the opposite side. When we sit at our laptop computer or gaze at our cell phones there is lower activity in this muscle due to forward head posture. Over time as this flexed position persists we lose power and thickness in this important extensor and rotator. 

Forward head posture is not only a cause of muscular weakness but is associated with headaches, carpel tunnel syndrome, balance, neck range of motion, shoulder pain, chronic nonspecific neck pain and more.  It is estimated the average person checks their cell phone 35-75 per day and this does not include other electronic device use, which can mean from 2 to 5 hours per day we are in a 'text neck' position. To counteract this atrophy of tissue a neck extension movement should be commonplace in all exercise programs.

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Neck Extension on the Pendulum 5 Way Head and Neck Machine

 

 

 

 

 

Topics: Pendulum 5 Way Neck, Pendulum 4 Way Neck, Neck training

Exercising The Neck

Having neck exercises as part of any workout routine is an important component of a fitness program. Push-ups, sit-ups, chin-ups, squats, lunges, planks are commonplace in any free-body routine but without inclusion of neck training overall development is incomplete.

An effective addition to a workout regime is to lay supine with the upper arm at a right angle to the side, the forearms parrallel to the neck and head as if making a goal post. The back of the hands must remain on the floor during the entire movement, this coaching point keeps the traps from assisting the head and neck during motion.

The exercise begins by raising the head off the floor and holding the movement for a determined count. The head then is moved to full flexion, held contracted and returned parrallel or slightly off the floor. It is recommended to hold each movement for 30 seconds at the beginning of and the top of each repetition to get the most out of the exercise. 

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Topics: Pendulum 5 Way Neck, Pendulum 4 Way Neck, Neck training

The Bulk Of The Deep Neck Flexors

The longus colli muscle, based upon it's comparative size, forms the bulk of the deep flexor muscles of the neck. Often those who sustain neck injuries receive trauma to these fibers. The issue becomes rehabilitation for the reduction of future problems.  Incorporating this tissue as a regular part of your exercise regime is an important consideration in program design.

Consistently include deep neck flexor work on the Pendulum 4 and 5 Way Neck Machines by utilizing the last four holes on the 'neck cam', that is, either the 12th 13th, 14th or the 15th position. The movement is accomplished by placing your face on the pad as one would normally do.  Once situated, the cervical muscles are contracted by beginning the exercise leading with the chin. By initiating the motion with the lower jaw the lifter will immediately feel the targeted flexor group. A terrific way to Get Strong.

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 The Pendulum Neck Machine with the Face Pad in the #12 Setting 

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  The Pendulum Neck Machine with the Face Pad in the #15 Setting

Topics: Pendulum 5 Way Neck, Pendulum 4 Way Neck

The Most Important Exercise

In March of 2014, The American Journal of Sports Medicine published, Effect of neck muscle strength and anticipatory cervical muscle activation on the kinematic response of the head to impulsive loads, they concluded "Interventions aimed at increasing athletes' neck strength and reducing unanticipated impacts may decrease the risk of concussion associated with sport participation."  This has important meaning for male and female athletes across the age spectrum for them to achieve greater neck strength and always improve their skill. By doing so they will be more accomplished in the anticipation of bracing for impact (anticipatory cervical muscle activation) and can reduce the magnitude of the head's subconcussive and concussive forces if incidences do occur.

A concussion (MTB, mild traumatic brain injury) and a variety of head and neck injuries are occurrences and risks associated with many of the sports that we play.  On October 1st, 2017, The Journal of Biomedical Engineering published, The Role of Neck Muscle Activities on the Risk of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury in American Football. Knowing neck strength is an effective preventative strategy in reducing sports related concussions, researchers wanted to examine the 'why' strength changed the head's kinematic response? They looked at four different muscle activation strategies - no muscle response, a reactive muscle response, a pre-activation response, and response due to stronger muscle strength to compare the effects of neck muscles on the risk of sustaining a concussion. "Simulation results indicated that active responses of neck muscles could effectively reduce the risk of brain injury." Increased neck strength can decrease the time to compress the neck and guard against the traumatic effects of injury. This study reaffirmed the aforementioned 2014 research.

As it turns, performance aside, this is why we strength train, to build our musculature to protect us as best we can during competition. Without question the number one and most important area of our body to train are the muscles of the head and neck. And if we are to look at training for performance -- remember as an athlete or coach, 'Where the head goes the body will follow', decreasing response time of neck muscles allows the body to move faster. Having quick responsive musculature throughout the system and a comparatively slower head and neck musculature is counterintuitive. 

Make head and neck training a priority to keep athletes safe and Get Strong.

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 The Pendulum 5 Way Head and Neck Machine

Topics: Pendulum 5 Way Neck, Pendulum 4 Way Neck, Neck training

When Being Neutral Is An Advantage

The semispinalis muscles are a group of three muscles located in the back of the cervicothoracic spine. These large and long muscles are involved in rotation, lateral flexion and when acting bilaterally extend the head and neck as a unit.

The semispinalis cervicis together with the semispinalis capitis are powerful neck extensors. When training it is important to note that these muscles are strongest in the neutral position. Starting a neck extension exercise with the neck flexed does not allow you to utilize the weight that these muscles are capable of moving. Take advantage of the neutral position when training on the Pendulum 4 or 5 Way Neck Machines to Get these powerful extensors Strong.

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 Starting Neck Extension from Neutral on the Pendulum 4 Way Neck Machine

 

Topics: Pendulum 5 Way Neck, Pendulum 4 Way Neck

Lateral Neck Flexion And Leverage

Training the head and neck is complex and leverage must be managed. In head and neck exercises we often use our traps and torso to accelerate and decelerate weight, either consciously or unconsciously, interfering with development. Coaches therefore teach proper form of exercise to achieve a desired amplification of force by putting us in appropriate leverage advantage and disadvantage positions to maximize muscular output. 

We elevate our traps by shrugging to protect our cervical spine, which keeps our head and neck from going to far into extension. We also use our traps to assist in accelerating our head and neck forward into flexion, protective actions that are reflexive in nature. These movements can readily be seen through the example of a loud noise occurring. Upon hearing a strange sharp noise you quickly shrug to assist in ducking your head and the quickly elevated traps protect the head and neck from being whiplashed backwards.

We also use our torso to move our head in space, this allows us to fully flex the muscles of the head and neck while dodging anything that is about to make contact with our countenance. Against a load on a neck machine it is very difficult to have lateral flexion of the head and neck without lateral flexion of the spine accompanied by some rotation, this is simply how our structures move as we contract our muscles.

In studies on training the neck, it has been found that the greatest electrical activity in the targeted musculature is achieved sitting.  But though this is the effective position, coaches know that even in a seated posture and properly addressing the leverage of the traps and torso ...... it is the arms that are often used to what in the 'exercise world' has been labeled as 'cheating'. 

Bryan Fitzpatrick is the Associate Strength & Conditioning Coach for Football and Coordinator of Speed/Agility Development for Navy. Bryan has coached at Penn State, the Minnesota Vikings and West Virginia before arriving at the Naval Academy. Bryan is extremely sharp and recently talked about a training technique that he uses with the Midshipmen to teach form, address leverage and get the most out of lateral neck flexion when using the Pendulum Neck Machine.

Bryan simply takes a dowel or PVC Pipe and creates the shape of a goal post with the arms before beginning lateral flexion (an approximately 40 degree movement). The face pad's work arm is placed in the fourth hole on the cam of the Pendulum 4 or 5 Way Neck machine. When the exercise begins the pipe may tilt a few degrees during the movement as the torso begins to flex - which is normal - yet the coach has the trainee keep the pipe as close to parallel to the floor as possible. 

The athlete trains several weeks with the acquired posture. Once picture perfect form is obtained and the weight has been increased the athlete understands how it feels to train lateral neck flexion with the desired motion.  Accomplished, the trainee alters his or her style by holding on to the bottom of the seat pad to stabilize the torso.  Using both arms to stabilize the trunk and depress the traps (not assist in the motion) allows lateral neck flexion to become the incredible neck developer that it is. 

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                                 A great way to teaching the skills of Getting Strong.

Topics: Head/Neck/Trap/Shop, Pendulum 5 Way Neck, Pendulum 4 Way Neck, Neck training

Deep Neck Flexors

The deep cervical neck flexor muscles longus capitis, longus colli, rectus capitis anterior, rectus capitis lateralis are not only important neck stabilizers and postural muscles, but impaired and/or delayed activation of these deep cervical flexors can cause headaches and/or neck pain and lead to a reduction of the tissues size (atrophy).

There are more muscles in the neck than degrees of freedom. The degrees of freedom refers to the number of ways we can move our head and neck in space. Having more muscles than movement allows us to substitute, that is, assist an action with muscles that are not deemed to be prime in an action. A simple illustration would be, waking up in the morning with a ‘stiff neck’ and though having discomfort, still have the  ability to function, moving the head and neck while the injured area recovers throughout the day.

Being able to substitute as muscles recover post strain or injury is a wonderful aspect of human function, but it is also imperative that we return our structures to normalcy once traumatized. Continual alteration of normal neural flow can and will lead to atrophy of the affected area and a lingering alteration of neural pathways. These deep cervical flexors are keys to neck pain relief and restoration of muscular activity and structural posture -- their function must be addressed.

The craniocervical flexion test (CCFT) is a clinical test of the anatomical action of the aforementioned deep cervical flexor muscles. The craniocervical flexion examination tests the isometric endurance of these inmost muscles and looks at their interaction with the superficial cervical flexors.

In a study in the 2016, Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, researchers used this test and electromyography and found that “Individuals with smaller deep cervical flexor muscles exhibited increased activity in the sternocleidomastoid during the CCFT.” The sternocleidomastoids are much more powerful and assist the weaker musculature in movement. It is also known that those with ‘neck pain disorders’ alter their neuromotor control and movement strategies and have reduced activity in the inner cervical flexors, factors that lead to substitution.

Neck trauma is commonplace whether it be due to aggressive participation in sport, occurrences such as whiplash, concussions or be it neglect. This reformed neuromotor control, increased activity in the superficial flexors and atrophy ensures that strength training must be done.

Include in the athletes training protocol a 10-15 degree movement that flexes the head.  This head action is a short distinct movement that is disassociated from a neck exercise. It is done by placing the neck pad work arm in one of the last four holes on the Pendulum 4 or 5 Way Head and Neck Machine's cam. Once the weight is set the athlete performs the exercise by flexing the head leading and pulling with his/her chin.

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The Pendulum 4 and 5 Way Neck Machines were designed to be able to address head and and neck movement to properly train the complex region of the upper spine.

Topics: Head/Neck/Trap/Shop, Pendulum 5 Way Neck, Pendulum 4 Way Neck, Neck training