Neck Strengthening To Reduce The Risk Of Concussion In Hockey Players

When I share an exercise with you, I share it because I know it works – I have tested it in the gym and it works.  For today’s exercise…I am not so sure and I will tell you why in a second.

Back home again after a great NSCA Hockey Training Clinic – there were some great speakers and a load of passionate hockey strength coaches.  I will share some of the insider tips with you in the next few weeks, but it was something I saw in the presentation by Quinnipiac Strength Coach Brijesh Patel that reminded me to post this article and video.

It May Or May Not Work


What I am about to share with you is not scientific fact.  Articles you read in Sports Illustrated are not scientific fact.  What I am about to share with you could do nothing whatsoever to reduce your risk or magnitude of concussion.

But maybe it will.

And it definitely will not harm you (unless you have some sort of neck injury or issue of course).

Concussion research is tough – how do you quantify the forces that lead to concussion in a hockey game.  No ethics committee would allow you study concussion mechanisms in a lab on real hockey players

– so much of the research deals with recovery methods after concussion.

Helmets Don’t Reduce The Risk…

Some of you may think that better helmets reduce the risk of concussion in hockey.  You will be surprised to know that they don’t.  Helmets reduce the risk of lacerations to your scalp – not concussion.  I went over many of these myths in this article.

Worth A Try…

Concussions are a result of your brain rattling around inside your skull.  It bounces off your skull and gets traumatized.  This is why players can suffer a concussion in hockey when they don’t even get hit in the head.

Some hypothesize that if we can control how much our head whips around when we get hit, by strengthening the neck, that it will reduce the incidence and/or magnitude of concussion.

I have no idea if that is true or not, but I know that neck strengthening will not hurt you as long as you do it like I show you in the video.  Like any other exercise using improper form with too much load can lead to injury and if you have a pre-existing neck ailment, then I would not suggest starting these until you check with your physio.

If you cannot see the video in the player above, just click here:

How Much? How Many?

  • Start with just one plane of movement per day – so one day do side bend, then flexion the next, then extension.
  • Do only 5 repetitions on each side with a three second isometric hold.
  • Remember you will only use 30% of your maximum effort, this should not be perceived as hard – you should just be aware of generating tension.

I add these in to the dynamic warm-up portion of our workout, but you could also do it as active rest between sets of strength or energy system development exercises.