Skip to main content

Neighbors of Kane County

Decrease neck pain and headaches with strength training

Aug 02, 2017 09:04AM ● By Ben Scott

By Richard J. Wolff, RD, LDN

According to surveys from the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fewer than 20 percent of adult’s strength-train on a regular basis. Of those who do, an even smaller percentage exercise the cervical spine (neck). 

This is a critical oversite, because muscle wasting disease affects the health of your entire body, including your spine. A report from the McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois reveals that: over 50 percent of adults have had neck pain in the last year; the incidence of neck pain is increasing in younger ages; females who sit at a desk all day suffer from neck pain proportionately more than males; and people with chronic neck pain use the healthcare system twice as much as the rest of the population.

In an attempt to reduce the economic burden of inactivity and muscle weakness, the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion has set a goal to increase the number of adults who strength train. This goal is summarized in the “Healthy People 2020” report, stating that one of the biggest challenges Americans face when it comes to strength-training is safety

Knowing how to strength-train safely is crucial, given that a leading reason why people stop strength-training is injury. And when it comes to neck training, safety is even more important because the delicate structures of the cervical spine (vertebra, muscles, tendons and ligaments) can easily be injured when neck exercises are improperly performed. Proper neck training improves neck flexibility, reduces neck pain and decreases the risk of neck injuries, so a healthy neck reduces doctor’s office visits and the use of drugs to manage pain. Neck training has also been shown to reduce concussions in contact sports.

An evidence-based neck workout improves function, reduces pain and prevents injuries by stretching and strengthening the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the cervical spine. Neck workouts are often designed around 4-Way Neck Machines. This machine typically has an adjustable seat for proper fit no matter what your body size, a customized cam that eliminates sticking points allowing you to work the neck muscles through a full range-of-motion, and a weight stack that accommodates small (one-pound) progression which allows the trainer to match your strength and ensure safe, consistent progression. 

About the Author

Richard J. Wolff,RD, LDN is the president of MEDFITNESS, a personal training studio specializing in efficient, evidence-based strength training. He is an adjunct faculty at the Graduate School at Northern Illinois University and serves on its Health and Wellness Advisory Board. Get more information about MEDFITNESS and their On-Demand Strength Training at