The Baltimore Ravens have a rep as one of the fiercest hitting defenses in the league. Without regular neck strengthening and stretching, their power hitters could experience serious injury. But thanks to Jeff Friday, the team's head strength and conditioning coach, they don't.
"The neck muscles must be able to move the head quickly and brace for blocks and tackling," Friday says. "So we perform exercises that strengthen the neck while relaxing the opposite muscle groups, which contract to fight the pull of gravity."
The Neck Extension is one exercise Friday prescribes for the Ravens, who perform it 2 to 3 times a week.
- Lie on stomach on flat surface
- Tuck chin into chest
- Slowly raise head off flat surface
- Hold position, then slowly lower to start position while releasing chin
- Complete 1 set of 12 with minimal rest
Adaptation: Have partner provide resistance with his hands
Coaching Points: Exercise the muscles through their full range of motion to ensure that they have all been strengthened. Perform the lowering phase for 4 seconds to maximize muscle fiber recruitment.
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