When you are taking part in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), you must train your neck. This is because a strong and stable neck can help to reduce the risk of injury while grappling on the mat.
Neck strength and stability also play an important role in overall performance, as the success of any technique or movement will be directly related to how well the neck can support it. A strong neck can provide greater control and precision for transitions, submissions, escapes, takedowns, and guard passes.
Why The Neck Is Commonly Neglected
Unfortunately, the neck is often neglected in most BJJ training programs. This is because the focus tends to be more on conditioning and strengthening other muscle groups. While these are important aspects of training, it is equally as important to pay attention to neck strength and stability. Without strong muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the neck area, these other muscles will not be able to work effectively.
Neck Strength and Concussions
Also, neglecting the neck can increase a person’s susceptibility to injuries and even concussions. For you MMA or combat jiu-jitsu athletes, it is especially important to have strong neck muscles. A concussion can be caused by a sudden change of motion or direction in the neck. Having the proper neck strength and stability will help prevent these types of injuries from happening.
"For every one pound increase in neck strength, odds of concussion decreased by 5%"
Even if you aren't participating in a martial art where the primary goal is to knock out your opponent, neck strength still plays an important role. Having a strong neck can help decrease the risk of injury while also improving overall performance in jiu-jitsu.
Some practitioners will also use their heads as a 5th limb on the mat, so having a strong neck can give them more control in guard passes and sweeps. It’s important to remember that neck strength plays a role in strong posture as well which is especially important in jiu-jitsu.
How To Train The Neck For BJJ
To maximize performance and reduce the risk of injury while grappling, it is important to incorporate neck training into your BJJ routine. The exercises you do to strengthen your neck don't have to be overly complicated either; simple isometrics can be just as effective as anything else if done consistently.
So make sure to include some neck strengthening exercises in your next training session and take the time to properly protect one of your most important assets - your neck.
As the experts at Bullet Proof For BJJ suggest, start slow! Don’t rush into anything and make sure to warm up properly before you start any training session. If done right, neck strength training can not only improve your performance on the mat but also reduce your risk of injury. Don’t neglect this important aspect of training, and start strengthening your neck today!
Neck Strength vs Neck Stability
Understanding the difference between neck strength and neck stability is important. While it is beneficial to have both, you should focus more on building a base of stability rather than pure strength. This means doing exercises that develop the smaller stabilizing muscles in the neck that are responsible for holding proper alignment during movements such as bracing drills and isometric holds.
Both are important but starting with stability is key. Neck strength can be built on top of that, and you should also incorporate neck mobility exercises for a full range of motion with slow progression. Overstretching too early can result in pulled muscles or ligaments, so be cautious and diligent with your neck strength routine.
Seeking professional aid and instruction from qualified practitioners is always recommended when starting any kind of new exercise routine. If your BJJ academy offers S&C (Strength and Conditioning) sessions, you should strongly consider taking advantage of them.
Having a trained eye observe your technique can help ensure that you are doing exercises correctly and will minimize the risk of injury. Encouraging your trainer to focus on neck stability and strength can only benefit you and your performance on the mat.
Additionally, having a professional trainer can help you create and adhere to a comprehensive plan for improving your overall neck strength and stability. The most important aspect of any training program is consistency, so make sure to keep at it and just take your time! Start now and the rewards will be worth it in the long run.
Remember to take responsibility for your own safety and put in the hard work to develop a strong and stable neck. Your performance on the mat, as well as reducing your risk of injury, will thank you!
Bringing Attention For Injury Prevention
The main intention of this article is to bring attention to the importance of neck strength and stability for combat sports athletes. Having strong and stable neck muscles can help improve overall performance while also reducing the risk of injury. So, make sure to take the time to incorporate neck-strengthening exercises into your routine and you will be well on your way to becoming a better and safer grappler.
"Neck Strengthening may well be the most important factor in preventing injury" - PhysioLife
Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a catastrophic injury to bring attention to the importance of conditioning for combat sports athletes. We should remember that having a strong and stable neck is an important way to reduce the probability of an injury occurring. It may not completely eliminate the potential for a freak accident but it can help to ensure that athletes are doing all they can to protect themselves while training.
Protect your neck but also protect your training partners as well. You both have a responsibility to maintain a safe training environment and working on neck strength can help make sure you are doing all you can to reduce the risk of injury. Accidents happen. Malicious slams are not appropriate. So, put in the work and make sure you stay strong for yourself and your teammates. Be conscientious about those that help you become a better person both on and off the mat.
Good luck and roll safe!
References and Citations:
Collins CL, Fletcher EN, Fields SK, Kluchurosky L, Rohrkemper MK, Comstock RD, Cantu RC. Neck strength: a protective factor reducing risk for concussion in high school sports. J Prim Prev. 2014 Oct;35(5):309-19. doi: 10.1007/s10935-014-0355-2. PMID: 24930131.
PhysioLife. (n.d.). Preventing neck injuries in BJJ. Preventing Neck Injuries in BJJ. Retrieved April 4, 2023, from https://physiolife.physio/news/how-to-prevent-neck-injuries-in-bjj-matt-ho-physio-alphington-heidelberg#:~:text=Using%20your%20hands%20to%20gently,important%20factor%20in%20preventing%20injury.
Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. If you need medical advice, please consult a licensed doctor or health care professional. It is always best to discuss any changes to your training routine with a professional before making any modifications.