The neck bridges are calisthenics and martial art exercise whole sole purpose is to work your neck. Additionally, though to a lesser degree, this routine also works your abs and hip flexors.
It dates from way back when martial artists did it to strengthen their necks as a method of injury mitigation.
This exercise is however for people in higher-level physical fitness or exercise experience. Read on to equip yourself with more information about this exercise including its proper form, benefits, and common mistakes to avoid among others.
HOW TO DO NECK BRIDGES PROPERLY
Lay on the floor (with a mat) on your back with your knees facing upwards.
While balancing your weight on your toes and the top of your head, lift your hips up into the air.
Hold in this position for a count without allowing your shoulders or back from touching the ground.
NECK BRIDGES MUSCLES WORKED
The following are neck muscles that are worked with the neck bridges exercise.
This is a thick muscle resembling a strap, and is located in the back of your neck. It starts at the base of your skull, ending at the top of your thoracic spine.
This muscle will allow for head extension, lateral flexion and the rotation of your cervical spine.
These are a group of muscles which includes: semispinalis, and splenius cervicis which are located deep in the back of your neck.
These muscles facilitate the rotation of your head from side to side and also in extending and arching your neck.
This is a thick muscle band containing a series of fibres and tendons. It is found in the upper back and runs all the way to the cervical spinous processes.
It is responsible for rotating your head and extending the ribs.
This is a bundle of muscles and tendons comprising of a portion of the erector spinae.
It is closely connected to the semispinalis capitis and also aids in the rotation of your head.
This is a broad muscle that is found in the upper back part of your neck. It originates in the seventh cervical vertebrae, inserting into the occipital bone and allows you to rotate and extend your head.
Also referred to as upper trapezius, this is the largest muscle in your back. It extends from your occipital bone to your shoulder blades and its main function is to support your arms and shoulders.
This muscle is part of the longissimus muscle group and is found at the posterior portion of the cervical spine. It begins in the thoracic vertebrae and ends in the cervical vertebrae. This muscle also facilitates the flexing and extending of your neck.
This muscle is found at the back and on the sides of your neck. It starts at the base of your skull, ending at your shoulder blade.
NECK BRIDGES BENEFITS
The neck muscles are considered as one of the weakest muscle groups in the body. Therefore, working to strengthen it comes with numerous benefits, some of them include:
OVERALL IMPROVED FUNCTIONL STRENGTH AND APPEARANCE
A strong neck will equally contribute to your general functional strength. Additionally, with a toned neck, you stand to improve your overall physique.
Imbalances and stiffness in the neck and shoulders is caused by a number of things such as poor sleeping postures, age, and poor postures.
If you spend long hours seated in a desk, slouching forward while writing or looking at your computer screen, you are at a higher risk of experiencing neck pains and injuries.
Other than practicing good siting postures, neck bridges will also help you to avoid these neck pains and injuries.
PROTECTION AGAINST INJURIES
A strong neck will help you in preventing injuries that may result from lifting heavy objects over your head such as reaching for something from an upper shelf or accidental impact.
In this case, your neck acts as the shock absorber between your body and neck.
IMPROVED SPORTS PERFORMANCE
When engaging in demanding exercises, the strength of your neck also impacts on the respiratory system and also the quality of breathing. This is because several muscles in your neck are involved in respiration.
Due to this, having stronger neck muscles will in tur boost your sports performance.
Having damaged, weak or fatigued neck muscles will equally affect the nerve impulses that are running from the brain to the spinal cord.
This can lose both dynamic and static balance as well as basic locomotive actions.
On the other hand, a stronger neck can help improve locomotion and balance, which are important aspects of day-to-day sporting activities.
NECK BRIDGES ALTERNATIVES
The following are alternative exercises that will also help you to develop stronger neck muscles.
During this alternative, you will feel the stretch along the front of your neck through the throat. You may additionally feel the muscles at the back of your neck, from the base of your neck all the way down to your upper back.
Also called the forward bending is a neck bridges alternative that will be felt throughout the back of your neck.
Also, while performing the movements, ensure your pace is controlled so that you can have maximum impact on the muscles.
LATERAL NECK FLEXION
This neck bridges alternative will see you bending your neck from side to side while working it.
When you do this exercise with your head bending towards your left shoulder, you will feel the stretch on the right side of your neck.
This neck bridges alternative involves turning your head side to side. Of all the above alternative, this one is considered the most challenging. You are only advised to rotate your neck partway if you are experiencing too much pain rotating it fully.
COMMON NECK BRIDGES MISTAKES TO AVOID
Avoid moving your body as this could destabilise your head and cause injuries to your neck.
Avoid holding for too long as this could place unnecessary pressure to your neck muscles.
Although the neck bridges have a simple guide, be keen to perform it with the right form lest you cause serious injuries such as breaking your neck.