There is a big difference between a neck stretch and a neck roll. This is a neck roll:
Contrary to whatever you may have heard about this being a great warm up or great stretch, it’s not 1 and here’s why:
360 degree neck rolls put an unneeded amount of pressure on your cervical spine and intervertebral discs. All through the length of our spine run vertebral arteries, the vessels that bring oxygen rich blood into your brain; whenever you grind your neck back in that way, it compresses those arteries, kind of like when you are running water through a garden hose and clamp down on the hose.
Keep in mind, the whole point of warming up is to INCREASE blood flow to an area and prevent injury. Also, remember your precious spinal cord and all the nerves that branch out from it… when you whip your head around back in that way you are violently subjecting a very vulnerable area to the most extreme angle of compression. That is no bueno and there is no good reason for it. It does not stretch or warm up anything. As a matter of fact, it can cause greater problems than you wish to prevent. Is grinding your teeth good for your jaw muscles? No. Now imagine an artery and a nerve being smashed between that. HELL NO. Your sweet little neck cringes at the thought of being crushed that way. This is what I prefer to do instead, also know as a half moon roll 2:
- 1. Sit or stand with a straight spine. Take a few relaxed breaths.
- 2. Slowly lower chin towards the chest and gently roll the head towards one shoulder in a semicircular motion.
- 3. Bring chin back towards chest, again in a semicircular motion, and repeat in the opposite direction.
- 4. Inhale while moving head towards the shoulder and exhale while bringing chin back towards chest. Use slow and flowing motions, keeping shoulders down and relaxed.
- 5. Five repetitions is sufficient. Don’t ever let the head fall or roll backwards. Be gentle and stop if there is any discomfort.
I know someone may try to convince you 360 degree neck rolling is a great, harmless stretch, but now you have the facts. Do what works best for you.
Curious… do you know of any other animal species that does that to their neck? Let’s ask this guy!