The neck isn't the first body part that comes to mind when we think of exercising our muscles, but necks shouldn't be neglected. Exercises that work and stretch the neck muscles can help relieve pain and prevent injury. If chronic neck pain or injury is an issue, an exercise machine designed specifically for the neck is a worthwhile investment.
Types of Neck Exercise Machines
Machines designed to work the muscles of the neck come in a few different varieties, suited to different needs. Weighted neck machines, for example, are intended for exercisers looking to increase muscle mass in the neck, while equipment such as neck straps or pulleys are intended to correct poor posture and prevent neck strain.
Posture Pulley Neck Exerciser
The Posture Pulley Neck Exerciser is a therapeutic neck strap that wraps around the back of the head. Designed to realign the neck and correct a forward-leaning posture, the neck strap can help prevent injury and strain. Used correctly, without pulling or straining the neck muscles, the strap will stretch and lengthen the muscles in the back of the neck. The most basic way to use the Posture Pulley Neck Exerciser is to wrap the wide neoprene section around the back of the head and grip the handles on either side. Pull the handles forward by straightening the arms, and hold for five to ten seconds. In time and with practice, you may also try incorporating other gentle neck exercises into this therapeutic strap routine. Twist the neck slowly to either side while using the strap, or reposition the strap to provide resistance from other sides of the neck. Chiropractors recommend the device for patients suffering from neck or posture problems. Users comments on Amazon.com report that the exerciser is both effective and easy to use.
Champion Neck Machine
Like any traditional weighted exercise machine, the Champion Neck Machine relies on pivots, adjustable pins to add or remove resistance, and a height-adjustable seat. This machine is considerably more expensive than the strap, but it also provides a more effective strengthening workout. This four-way exercise machine is designed to work every muscle of the neck, but users should take care not to overload themselves on the resistance and to use good form at all times. Injuries to the neck can be severe, and using weights to work the neck will heighten that risk. With those precautions, the Champion Neck Machine offers the chance to build formidable strength in the neck. But there is a catch. According to the experts at Bodybuilding.com, a four-way exercise machine will not work the neck's rotator muscles, so even with this piece of equipment, users will need to work the rotator muscles with an additional manual set of exercises.
Hydra-Gym Power Neck Machine
One of the more expensive neck machines on the market, the Hydra-Gym is an elite-model exercise machine for the neck. Like the Champion Neck Machine, the Hydra-Gym Power Neck Machine offers weighted resistance and a steel frame, but the Hydra-Gym is a standing machine rather than a seated one, offering a neck workout that recruits more of the body's stabilizing muscles. According to the manufacturer's description, the Hydra-Gym Power Neck Machine is superior because it provides twice the usual resistance during the workout and can automatically adjust the resistance according to the user's strength and speed. Decades ago, the 1980 Olympian Hockey Team, as well as generations of high school athletes, made the Hydra-Gym Power Neck Machine popular. Today, newer models offer additional resistance, as well as additional support through a frame that surrounds the head from three sides to assist with good form and proper alignment.
Using Neck Machines
A full workout for the neck should incorporate the neck's rotator, flexor, and extensor muscles. Whether using a weighted machine or a strap, neck exercises involve moving the neck through its full range of motion in all directions, as long as each movement is comfortable. Using a machine, hand weights or plates, or a strap for resistance, tilt the head forward, tilt from side to side, and gently backward. Then, twist the neck to either side. Always start with a lighter weight and increase weight gradually. Bodybuilding.com cautions not to use a very heavy weight, as the muscles of the neck are fragile. Keeping this guidelines in mind can help your achieve your goal of a strong and healthy neck without injuring yourself.