Exercise can sometimes be a double-edged sword, especially when it comes to strength-training routines because they tend to be fairly hard on the upper part of the spine. The added strain that can be placed on the supporting muscles and joints can make existing neck pain worse or unintentionally do more damage to your cervical spine, leading to the need for spine or neck surgery. Take extra care when performing these 4 strength-training exercises.
1. Sit-Ups or Crunches
Positioning your hands behind your head while doing sit-ups or crunches puts added stress on the cervical spine discs, which may contribute to disc herniation. Instead, modify your motions and place your hands under your lower back to get the same stretch without straining your neck.
2. Lat Pulldowns
The support the bar provides when placed behind your neck while doing a lat pulldown can also be an unexpected source of neck pain. The related forward motion can stretch the muscles and tendons in your neck and may strain joints and vertebrae.
3. Military Presses
This variation of an overhead press can also strain your neck muscles when you place the bar behind your neck, especially if you’re adding extra weight or don’t maintain your posture. Modify lat pulldowns or military presses by moving the bar in front near your chin instead of behind your neck.
4. Front & Rear Neck Bridges
In general, bridging places a lot of added weight on your neck. Exercises like these can also place far too much stress on a neck that’s already vulnerable. Strengthen your neck muscles with resistance by placing your hand against your forehead while gently pushing with equal force with your hand and neck.
Incorporate neck-specific exercises into your routine, like machine flexions with your chin lowered to your chest and side-to-side rotations. Avoid warm-ups or cool-downs that can contribute to neck pain, such as neck rolls. Stop if you experience pain and check with a board-certified spine physician if the pain doesn’t go away or gets worse.
If you would like to learn about treatments for neck pain or are interested in minimally invasive neck surgery in Beverly Hills, get in touch with Dr. Hyun Bae and his team at The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration. Call our office today at 310-828-7757 to schedule a consultation.