Review of the Iron Neck – A Game Changer for Athletes
One of the most challenging muscles to train in your body is your neck. The Iron Neck is changing the landscape for developing a strong and robust foundation for a previously neglected muscle group.
This article covers everything you need to know about the current challenges we face with neck and head injury, the importance of a strong neck for both sport and our modern lifestyles, and how the Iron Neck fills the gap in proper neck development for athletes and the general population alike.
- The Neglected Neck Problem
- The Importance of a Strong Neck in Sports
- The Iron Neck
- Final Thoughts on the Iron Neck:
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The Neglected Neck Problem
The statistics for neck pain are shocking. With up to 50% of adults experiencing some form of neck discomfort, only 50%-85% find complete resolution of their symptoms.
Add high-impact sports into the mix, and athletes find themselves at additional risk for neck injury and concussions. Statistics in football alone estimate 10-15% of players will experience cervical-spine injury. And concussions account for nearly 9% of all high school athletic injuries.
Luckily, protocols for helping to reduce the occurrence of head and neck injuries in sports have gained substantial traction over the past decade. However, it isn’t just sports impact contributing to the overall rise in current neck injuries. Changes in our modern lifestyles have also piled on to place our necks and heads in compromised positions, and these factors slowly build into different forms of chronic neck pain and injury.
How Our Modern Lifestyles Affect Neck Health
Sports and fitness aside, our modern environments give us all kinds of opportunities for neck problems. Whether you’re reading this on your phone or your laptop screen, there’s a good chance your head is bent downward and causing strain on your neck.
Now, that strain might seem like a minor factor. When you’re looking down at your phone, you may not feel substantial pressure or any pain at the time. However, the tilt of your head has a substantial effect in amplifying the weight and pressure sustained by your neck.
When you’re sitting on the couch scrolling through your phone in the evening, it’s not uncommon for your head to reach up to 60 degrees in tilt. On average, the head weighs between 10-12 pounds. This tilt creates an amplification of that weight producing up to 60 pounds of pressure – creating remarkable amounts of additional strain on your neck.
If you head to the weight rack and grab a 60-pound dumbbell, you begin to have an idea why neck injury rates have been consistently climbing since the mass adoption of the smartphone into daily life.
While changing bad habits and making posture improvements can dramatically reduce your risk of strain and injury, cell phone use for the modern workforce and changes in how we communicate increase the percentage of time we spend using them every day. And slipping back into bad posture habits is nearly unconscious.
This only illuminates the importance of improving your next line of defense against correcting and protecting your neck and spine from compromising postures – developing a stronger and more robust neck through targeted training.
The Historical Flaws in Neck Training
For years, trainers and athletes have cobbled together combinations of resistance bands, towels, and harnesses, in an attempt to train the neck effectively. The fact that up to 50% of the general population has neck pain at any given time suggests that the methods may not have been the most effective.
Traditional tools like the neck harness would commonly only be used for resisted training in the extension of the neck. Less commonly, creative athletes serious about neck development might find ways to use cables or bands to also integrate the flexion movement into their training.
But the neck doesn’t just move the head backward (extension) and forwards (flexion). The intricate system of muscles in the neck also supports and moves the head laterally and through rotation of the head. These movements are much more challenging to train without the right tools.
However, it doesn’t change the reality that a well developed neck plays a significant role in injury prevention and maximizing your athletic potential. And finding ways to strengthen those intricate systems of muscles in the neck through all of their designed motions is as crucial as ever.
The Importance of a Strong Neck in Sports
Contact sports like football can put your body into compromising positions and events of high impact. But even non-contact sports like swimming, tennis, or cycling all place elevated demands on your body. The neck is an often overlooked area of training until something happens to cause either performance limitations or various degrees of pain.
As athletes, training and building strength have two purposes: Improving athletic performance and preventing injury to keep you in the game.
Let’s break down how a solid neck plays its role in supporting the two most critical aspects of sports and competition.
Injury and Concussion Prevention
Not only is the neck crucial for holding and moving your head around, but it’s also essential to supporting the top of your spine and spinal cord.
Unfortunately, the neck often finds itself in vulnerable positions that can cause injuries ranging from mild strains to severe fractures.
The most common types of neck injuries you’ll come across in sports are:
- Muscle Strains
- Ligament Sprains
- Cervical Fractures
- Cervical Disk Injuries
Like any other muscle group, strengthening a body part’s primary and supporting muscles can dramatically reduce your chance of injury.
But there is one other significant role the neck plays in injury occurrence and prevention: Concussions.
Concussions are a serious injury vector for athletes. Not only are there short-term symptoms that will take you out of the game, but there are consequential long-term effects that can lead to memory and focus problems, personality changes, and deterioration in other brain functions.
Your neck plays a vital role in the acceleration and deceleration of the head. Concussions occur when impact to the body causes the head to move rapidly back and forth.
To help prevent or reduce this head movement during impact, strengthening the muscles of the neck allows you to control head movement, slowing down acceleration and deceleration.
Improving Athletic Performance
While injury prevention alone is a reason enough to begin focusing your attention on strengthening and developing the muscles of the neck, there are also substantial benefits a strong neck gives you in maximizing your athletic performance.
Anything that requires you to move your head in any direction relies on your neck for effective motion.
Struggling to think of a ‘neck-specific movement’ in sports? From snap to whistle, count how many times a quarterback moves his head to scan and adapt as the play unfolds. Anything that requires you to track motion with your head relies on a stable neck to make it happen.
The strength of your neck is also responsible for a well-functioning respiratory system. Weak neck muscles can impact your breathing efficiency. And for any sport or physical activity, your ability to breathe translates into every other aspect of your athletic performance and ability to recover more quickly.
A strong neck also leads to postural improvements throughout your entire body. We have already discussed at length how our modern lifestyles negatively impact our posture. A well-rounded neck development program is the first step in making crucial improvements to your posture.
Posture may seem like a minor factor in your athletic performance. But in reality, it is the foundation for allowing your body to maintain normal length-tension relationships throughout the different muscle chains for any athletic movement you perform.
The Iron Neck
Iron Neck’s founder Mike Jolly was on a mission to minimize the damage from concussive impact in sports through proper neck strengthening.
As a former football player himself, coach, and trainer, Mike understood the challenges of strengthening the neck and the lack of current solutions on the market. So he applied his unique perspective on training athletes to develop a product that addressed neck strengthening head-on.
What was created is the Iron Neck, a comprehensive solution for building neck, back, and core muscle strength.
How the Iron Neck Works
The Iron Neck uses linear and rotational resistance to strengthen the neck and its supporting muscle groups, which improves range of motion, posture, mobility and reduces the risk of injury.
You secure the Iron Neck on your head, then adjust the pads and straps to fit correctly. Then just like the infamous Reebok Pump shoes, you use the AirFit Bulb to inflate the rear pad to hold the device tight on your head.
The Iron Neck’s unique design specifically set out to address the limitations of previous methods of training the neck. Instead of only allowing for development in the extension and flexion ranges of motion, the Iron Neck gives your 360-degree development opportunities.
In one tool, you now have the ability to train flexion, extension, lateral flexion, and rotation of the head. These motions unlock a powerful array of neck development exercises:
- Protraction and Retraction
- Cervical Glides
- Thoracic Rotations
- Figure Eights
- Reverse Nordic Exercises
Instead of cobbling together a gym bag full of assorted tools, attachments, and homemade devices to accommodate for training all of the neck’s complex muscle systems, the Iron Neck takes an engineered approach to holistic neck development in one device.
Different Iron Neck Packages:
All three bundles share the following features:
- 360 Degrees of Movement
- AirFit Technology
- Interchangeable Pads
- Isometric + Eccentric Training
Where the three packages differ: The Iron Neck Pro bundle additionally includes adjustable concentric training and a variable friction dial. The variable friction allows you to increase the amount of resistance when turning your head – making it perfect for the advanced training athlete.
Iron Neck Pro vs. Varsity vs. Starter Comparison Chart
|Iron Neck Pro||Iron Neck Varsity||Iron Neck Starter|
|360 Degrees of Movement||✓||✓||✓|
|Variable Friction Dial||✓||–||–|
Final Thoughts on the Iron Neck:
As a serious athlete or someone working with their physician to alleviate neck discomfort, properly training your neck is something that should be a priority.
Neglecting to train your neck can lead to all sorts of issues down the road, and even worse, can increase your chance of injury.
Unleashing your full potential as an athlete comes down to focusing on the small pieces of the puzzle that have critical contributions to your athleticism. Just like how a tight psoas muscle can slow you down, or imbalanced and immobile shoulders wreak havoc on your athletic performance – shifting the focus back onto these weaknesses is just what will take your athletic ability to the next level.
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