I have been researching anything and everything that has to do with concussions since suffering my own career-ending head injury ten years ago. That being said, most of the "new" breakthroughs seen on the news are usually old news for me. I have heard of the association between neck strength and concussion risk though my research over the years. And while myself and all of the other athletes who attended West Morris Central High School were blessed to have an amazing strength and conditioning coach, I don't recall ever doing neck strengthening exercises. Therefore, I had very little personal knowledge about neck strength and its role in concussion prevention until talking with Mike Jolly (pictured above) and Robert Sherman (right) from Iron Neck.
The Iron Neck was invented by Mike Jolly in 2012 in response to seeing the impact of CTE on former UCLA Football teammates and the rise in concussions in young athletes. As a high school and college football coach, Mike began researching ways to prevent concussions and focused on two growing areas of research:
- Neck training as a proactive measure to reduce concussion risk.
- The increased threat of rotational forces on the brain.
Below is a video on how the Iron Neck is used and how it is innovating neck strengthening in the world of strength and conditioning:
There is no silver bullet when it comes to concussion prevention, but as Robert said in episode 104, "you're only as strong as your weakest link." Below are other topics we touch on in our conversation:
- The inspiration behind the creation of the first Iron Neck.
- The neck's role in dissipating forces to the head.
- The anatomy of neck muscles and how to achieve maximum contraction.
- Mike's concussion story.
- Why Mike credits wrestling for staying healthy on the football field.
- Why helmets aren’t the answer to preventing concussions, especially in sports other than football.
- What Joey Batson, Head Strength and Conditioning coach at Clemson is doing to prevent concussions.
- Why females should be prioritizing neck strength.
- Evolution of neck strengthening (Below).
- Why neck range of motion + flexibility are also important.
- Motorsports crumple zone comparison.
- How strength and conditioning coaches are using the Iron Neck to save time and space.
- How the Iron Neck allows for transferability to the field and positional strength.
- Why the biggest impacts come from the ones you don’t see coming.
- Research on the Iron Neck:
- In 2014, the Journal of Primary Prevention published a study that tracked 6700 high school athletes in boys' and girls' soccer, basketball, and lacrosse over a 2.5 year period. Researchers captured anthropometric measurements, concussion incidents and athletic exposure data and found "for every one pound increase in neck strength, odds of concussion decreased by 5%."
- How Physical Therapists and Athletic Trainers are using the Iron Neck.
- Vestibular and vision training, text neck, postural.