Can Neck Strength Reduce Concussions in Women's Soccer? | STACK 4W

Can Neck Strength Reduce Concussions in Women's Soccer?

April 9, 2014

Must See Soccer Videos

Women's soccer ranks second only to football in the number of reported concussions.[1] In the past, concussion prevention took a back seat to treatment. But recent data from leading experts suggests that neck strengthening may actually have a role in preventing (or lessening the severity of) concussions on the field.

RELATED: Concussions Are an Epidemic in Women's Sports Too

Neck size and strength predict brain injury

At the 2013 Youth Sports Safety Summit, Dawn Comstock, an epidemiology professor at the Colorado School of Public Health, unveiled new data supporting the idea that concussion risk is inversely related to neck strength. The study compared neck length, neck circumference, and measurements of neck strength in flexion, extension, and lateral rotation among 6,704 male and female athletes engaged in three sports (soccer, lacrosse, and basketball). Measurements were taken before and during the season, and athletic trainers reported the data.

Comstock's results showed that athletes diagnosed with concussions had much smaller necks and less strength overall than those who did not. The study found that for every one-pound increase in neck strength, the chances of sustaining head trauma fell by 5 percent.[2]

Dr. Bob Cantu, M.D., a renowned neurosurgeon and leading authority on concussions, said in an NBC interview with Kate Snow that athletes with weak necks are much more susceptible to head trauma. He added, "Girls as a group have far weaker necks. That same force delivered to a girl's head spins the head much more because of the weak neck than it does to the guys."[3]

In an interview with Athletic Business, Comstock said the more the head spins, the more chance of concussion. "As the head rocks back and forth, it's also twisting a little on the brain stem, and it's those accelerative and rotational forces as the brain is impacting inside the skull that are really what's causing these concussions."[4]

Preventing concussions with neck strengthening

According to Dr. Cantu, female soccer players should participate in daily neck strengthening exercises. Much more research is needed, however, to determine what exercise protocols would work best. Currently, Dr. Cantu recommends basic isometric exercises applying resistance to the head with one hand for a few seconds in varying ranges of motion, for 10 repetitions for multiple sets.[5]

RELATED: Protect Your Brain With This Neck Workout

Many are already doing it

Thanks to the new data, many organizations are implementing their own neck-strengthening programs. Syracuse University requires its football players to take baseline circumference measurements of their necks and undergo a rigorous neck strengthening program.[6] In the private sector, businesses such as Compete Sports Performance & Rehab (Lake Forest, Calf.) are using devices like the Halo to strengthen their athletes' necks. The Halo is a cable attachment designed to apply resistance to an athlete's neck in various ranges of motion that mimic positions the head would be in during brain trauma.

Management and prevention

Although the recent research is only preliminary, the results portend exciting news. For years, clinicians have only been able to treat, not prevent, concussions. Now with new data, clinicians and researchers will hopefully be able to turn the focus on concussions to prevention, and cut down on the number of concussions among women soccer players and other high-risk groups.

FROM AROUND THE WEB

Read more:

References

[1] Marar, Mallika, BS McIlvain, Natalie, JD, PhD Fields, Sarah, Ph D.Comstock, Dawn, "Epidemiology of Concussions Among High School Athletes in 20 Sports." AJSM PreView, published January 27, 2012.

[2] Gregory, Sean, "Neck Strength Predicts Concussion Risk, Study Says." Keeping Score, http://keepingscore.blogs.time.com/2013/02/21/study-neck-strength-predicts-concussion-risk/.

[3] Snow, Kate, "Contact Sport: Girls Soccer Sidelined By Concussions." Rock Center, http://www.nbcnews.com/video/rock-center/47364208#47364208.

[4] Steinbach, Paul. "Sports Injury Expert Dawn Comstock Talks Concussion Prevention." Athletic Business, N.p., n.d. Web. 18 July 2013.

[5] Snow, Kate, "Neck Strengthening Exercises Can Help Prevent Concussions, Doctors Say." Rock Center, http://rockcenter.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/06/07/12108954-neck-strengthening-exercises-can-help-prevent-concussions-doctors-say.

[6] Cohen, Michael, "Syracuse tries to decrease risk of concussions by neck-strengthening." Sports Illustrated, http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/football/ncaa/09/28/concussions-neck-strength-syracuse-eastern-michigan/.

Topics: SOCCER | CONCUSSION
Ben Torres
- Ben Torres is an athletic trainer at Compete Sports Performance & Rehab (Lake Forest, Calif.), where he provides sports rehabilitation services to youth, college and...
Ben Torres
- Ben Torres is an athletic trainer at Compete Sports Performance & Rehab (Lake Forest, Calif.), where he provides sports rehabilitation services to youth, college and...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

5 Exercises to Prevent ACL Tears

Fact: More than 70% of all Anterior Cruciate Ligament injuries are non-contact related. Another fact: Many of these injuries can be prevented with the...

How Cristiano Ronaldo Can Defeat the Witch Doctor's Curse

Reducing Concussion Risk in Youth Athletes

Will Joel Embiid Be Able to Succeed in the NBA?

Female Athletes Need to Watch Out for Concussions, Too

3 Reasons to Correct Your Weak Links to Prevent Common Injuries

Can Wii Fit Help With Concussion Rehab?

Maintaining Your Lower-Body Strength After Tommy John Surgery

Concussion Awareness Takes the Stage in Congress

How to Prevent Baseball Injuries During the Off-Season

Should Women Lacrosse Players Wear Helmets?

3 Ways to Prevent the Most Common Hockey Injury

Why a Sports Hernia Won't Ruin Jadeveon Clowney's Rookie Season

Can Soccer Lead to Brain Trauma?

Does Loss of Sleep Have Same Effects as Sports Head Injuries?

How to Keep Your Feet Healthy On and Off the Field

How a Scan May Detect Concussion-Related Brain Disease

Play It Safe With the 5 Pillars of Heads Up Football

How to Train With Shin Splints

Outsmart Injury With These 4 Predictive Tests

Why Your Shin Splints Aren't Really Shin Splints

3 Causes of Recurring Hamstring Injuries

How to Protect Yourself From Heat Stroke This Summer

Why Strengthening This Muscle May Fix Knee Pain

Protect Your Brain With This Neck Workout

Are Concussions Destroying Football?

2 Game-Changing Protective Football Gear Products

4 Sports Massage Techniques to Relieve Tight Muscles

Avoid Low-Back Pain With These 7 In-Season Exercises

Axon Sports Concussion Baseline Testing Giveaway

Connective Tissue: The Key to Preventing ACL Injuries

Wear a Mouthguard to Prevent Concussions

Tommy John Surgery 10 Times More Common Than a Decade Ago

What You Need to Know About Tiger Woods' Back Injury

Learn From Brian Roberts' Self-Inflicted Concussion

8 of the Most Ridiculous Off-Field Athlete Injuries of All Time

Evan Gattis's Protection-Enhanced Catcher's Helmet

6 Steps for Recovering From a Season-Ending Injury

The New Rules for Cryotherapy: Why You're Icing Wrong

Concussion FAQs

How to Prevent Common Basketball Injuries

Quarterbacks: 4 Tips to Keep Your Throwing Shoulder Healthy

STACK Concussion Awareness and Prevention Series

Concussions Are an Epidemic in Women's Sports Too

5 Tips to Intelligently Train Through Lower Back Pain

Prevent ACL Injuries With This Hamstring-Focused Workout

Tips for Working Out With a Hand or Arm Injury

How to Prevent Injuries With 3 Yoga Poses

Bulletproof Your Body with 5 Easy Injury Prevention Exercises

Protect Yourself With Battle Sports Science Gear

4 Strategies to Prevent Tommy John Surgery

How to Avoid Softball Pitching Injuries

Can a Mouthpiece Improve Performance?

How to Bench Press With a Shoulder Injury

Should Pitchers Ice After Throwing to Prevent Shoulder Injuries?

Impressive Advances in ACL Rehab

Predicting the Impact of DeMarco Murray's Hand Injury

The 8 Most Dangerous Exercises for Your Shoulders

4 Exercises to Fix Bad Posture and Help You Move Better

Four Simple Tips to Understand and Prevent Concussions

Study Finds Link Between Head Trauma and Brain Disease

Basketball Prehab: Exercises for 4 Trouble Spots

3 Ways to Protect Your Knees and Prevent ACL Injuries

Pectoral Tendon Ruptures and Injury Prevention

How to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt