Headaches are a pain in the neck.

Perhaps the most valuable advice I garnered from my time as a Superslow devotee is to use neck exercise as a way to combat headaches, both exercise-induced and otherwise. I can’t overstate how many times this little tidbit has rescued a training session.

Cervical extension can be used as a preventive measure against exercise-induced headaches (EIH) not caused by Valsalva. It also has great utility as a post-EIH treatment to reduce the severity of an EIH, and in some cases, eliminate it completely.

The most common application is to use manual resistance, since most facilities are not outfitted with 4-way neck machines. Additionally, with manual resistance, you can tailor the difficulty of the exercise to the trainee, as well as positioning your hands in relation to the trainee’s head (whereas with a machine, you must position the trainee correctly, and they must learn the movement with a fixed weight, which may be too light or heavy).

Dan Riley, strength coach of the Houston Texans, has a great article (with pictures) on how to properly perform neck exercises. While I would recommend one follow a slower cadence than the one he recommends, his advice is great. You can read the article here: http://www.houstontexans.com/fitness/news_detail.php?PRKey=1438

I’ll touch base on this topic more in the future, since I think that neck training is vitally important for all trainees, and that learning how to properly perform manual resistance exercises is a key asset for a personal trainer or strength coach.

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