Hey Angels and Alphas,
One of the least talked about topics in all of male and female fitness is the position of your head and neck. And no wonder since they’re probably the last thing you think about when you’re lifting weights.
Most people who sit at computers or use smartphones all day have a less-than-ideal posture to begin with, and this can further carry over into our sweat sessions and cause some unexpected trouble.
Have you ever seen someone look up while they’re deadlifting? Or hunching forward while they’re doing cable flys?
Some physical therapists call this upper crossed syndrome. Think chin jutting forward and rounded shoulders. This posture comes from working on a computer, sitting at a desk, biking, gaming, driving, coding, and a lot of other activities that keep us in a fixed position for a long period of time.
The muscle that basically brings the shoulders up and the neck forward is constantly tensed up, all while the muscles that pull the shoulders and neck back (and down) get stretched, causing a small muscular imbalance.
Even when we tend to stand up and get ourselves over to the gym, we sometimes tend to stay in this position. And our bodies always love to take the path of least resistance. When you are in proper alignment, holding this takes more effort and activation so people (especially those who have experienced some sort of muscular imbalances) will naturally drift toward that forward head position.
HERE’S WHY NECK AND HEAD POSITION IS VITAL WHEN LIFTING WEIGHTS
When the head and neck are not in their proper alignment during exercise, your spine will be less stable, and your core will be unable to activate properly. This will ultimately lead to chronic pain and a greater risk of injury to your neck or lower back.
While neck posture and forward head are problematic in pretty much all types of exercise, they are especially harmful when weightlifting. When you are adding additional load to your body, proper form will become even more important because you’re risking a lot more.
It’s not uncommon to see people overutilizing their small neck muscles to help lift the weight or to accomplish the current exercise. Most often, this will look like a person tipping their chin up while they are doing an exercise. If their neck is not properly supported by the trunk of the body, the neck muscles will overcompensate.
What’s more, this poor posture will lead to even worse posture in the future. It just creates an endless cycle unless you start taking action.
HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN DO TO FIX YOUR POSTURE
You’re in luck – all it takes to fix this issue when you’re in the gym is some increased awareness. You can work with a trainer to correct this issue, and that would be ideal, but if you’re on your own, here’s what the experts recommend you try out:
Create a verbal cue for yourself. If you want to get your neck and head stacked over your shoulders, it may help to remind yourself of a very specific cue before and during your actual workouts. The most common cues include things such as ‘tuck your chin’ and “put your ears in line with your shoulders. Another great one is “feeling like you have a double chin.”
Create a spatial cue for yourself. If it’s not a verbal cue, you can try a visual one. A great starting cue is to imagine someone pulling a string from the top of your head as if you’re attempting to grow taller. This will help lengthen your neck and will ensure your chin isn’t jutting forward unnecessarily.
Finally, try to get some external feedback. Always check your form in the mirror, or better yet, record a video of your form. When you’re doing an exercise such as the bench press, check where your head is at all times and exactly at which moments it’s touching the mat. If you are in proper alignment, the lower portion of the back of your head is going to touch, and there will only be a small space left under your neck. If the space under your neck is large or actually closer to the crown of your head, your chin may be up too far, and you’re probably out of alignment.