Guest Post by:
T. Ryan Littlejohn, ATC
Athletic Trainer
MUSC Health Sports Medicine

Have you heard the buzzword concussion in todays sports world? Most people would agree they have heard all the hype about concussions and it is a big deal. There is good reason for this attention to head injuries, they can be serious and need to be managed appropriately. A concussion is an injury to the brain and currently there is no way to completely prevent them from occurring. According to the centers for disease control, there are 3.8 million concussions per year, in the U.S. alone. A concussion occurs when the brain is bruised from hitting the inside of the skull and it can occur from a whip lash or a direct blow to the head. This can lead to concussion symptoms, headache, dizziness, and nausea, which tend to be the most common. If you or someone you know is experiencing problems from a head injury, it is essential that a medical provider trained in concussion management is consulted, before returning to any type of physical activity.

Some research suggests that certain strengthening exercises may help reduce the prevalence or severity of a concussion by reducing or better absorbing the applied force. Specifically, neck strength is something that can be addressed and might help lessen the chance of receiving a concussion. The rationale behind this is simply a stronger neck could help stabilize both the head and neck movement. So take action, implement these simple and easy exercises into your sports program today.

Shoulder Shrugs:

Standing with weight in both of your hands and arms by your side slowly shrug your shoulders upward. Control the weight in both directions - lifting and lowering the weight. Perform for 3x10.

Upright Rows:

Standing with arms in front of you holding a dumbbell or bar, have the palms facing outward. Raise the weight to chest level then slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.  Perform 3x10.

Four Way Isometrics:

Place two hands on back of your head and then push into your hands for isometric resistance. Perform in all four directions - front, back, left and right side of your head. Make sure you feel the resistance in your neck, but keep your head straight.  Perform 1x10 each direction holding for 5 to 10 seconds.

Towel Resistance:

Place a towel behind your head and hold the ends of the towel. Perform resistance against the towel keeping your head straight and pushing backwards. Then change the position and push against the towel going forward. Perform 1x10 reps holding for 5 to 10 seconds.

Resources and Additional Information:

Google search results for concussion

PubMed Abstract on neck strength as a factor in concussion

Mom's Team:  Stronger Necks May Reduce Concussion Risk