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What exercise should I do to strengthen my neck to head a ball?

There may not be an exercise to avoid a concussion, however, having a strong neck can help reduce the chances of whiplash when contacting the ball with your head.  One exercise to help build the stability of your neck muscles is a ball chin tuck exercise.  To perform this exercise, begin with getting into a quadruped position (on your hands and knees) and place a stability ball between the top of your head and a wall. From this position, slowly extend your face forward towards the ground while keeping the top of your head in contact with the ball, and then back up to the starting position. This exercise helps strengthen the deep muscles of your neck that help support your head and cervical spine.  Also, you can perform some neck flexion, extension, and side bends while lying on a bench.  Perform 20-30 slow, controlled repetitions for each direction.  These two exercises will help strengthen and improve the endurance of the neck muscles in all directions.  Be sure to review proper technique with your coach before heading a ball so that you remember to strike the ball with your forehead near the hairline and attack the ball rather than waiting for the ball to come to you.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.