It is indicated through the literature that there is more musculature than degrees of freedom in the head and neck region of our anatomy. What this means is that an individual is able to ‘substitute’, that is, make similar movements with the head and/or neck using muscles that are normally accessory in a particular task. This is a good thing for many reasons, if we wake up in the morning with what is deemed as a ‘stiff neck’ though uncomfortable we are able to function throughout the day actually resting the affected area substituting movement with lesser or unaffected musculature. Having the hotbed of proprioception, the area which is most important in movement and balance with an abundance of muscle redundancy, allows us to have a certain degree of normalcy while healing takes place.
Athletes Paused at the Top of the Movement
Utilizing magnetic resonance imaging during a neck strength training study researchers showed that in the beginning of a neck weight lifting regime more neck muscles were involved in each set of the movement and near the end of training the exact exercise, less musculature was used to move the same load. The prime movers of the motion and the muscles that were available to assist the action were all being used when the lifters began the studies training program. As training persisted near the end of the study only the strongest muscles that were necessary to move the load were being utilized and the synergists were no longer developing strength.
EMG studies on the contrary show that if the athlete pauses at the top of the movement all the neck musculature becomes phasic. Once all neck muscles become part of the action of holding the weight in a paused position, slowly return the load towards the starting point of the repetition. Performing an eccentric movement or better said lengthening contraction will keep the entire cylinder and it’s associated tissue active. Train with a pause at the top of each rep and continue the exercise until it is difficult to control the decent of the weight each set. Resistive exercise in this manner keeps all the neck muscles active throughout each training session and is the best way to Get Strong.