Within the past half a year I fell in fitness love with pull ups and all the challenging variations that come with them. Along my pull up journey though I found my neck was getting sore. I started to get worried and I knew that something had to change. I did some reading and some research while thinking about my form. I no longer am experiencing neck pain and I wanted to share the Average Guy's top tips for avoiding neck strain from pull ups.
This was actually the most important thing I did. I was often really pushing (I guess pulling actually) to get one more rep and when I was beginning to stall I was attempting to crane my neck over the bar. I doubt that last rep was going to greatly improve reaching my goals and if anything I was one bad rep away from injuring myself.
2. Practice Good Form
This could be a tip for avoiding injury for any type of fitness activity and the pull up is no exception. It is common for people to use momentum while performing a pull up instead of doing them strictly. It feels good to get a few extra reps but it is not a good idea when it comes to safety. When doing a pull up don't completely lock out the elbows at the bottom. Push down through the elbows and remember to -
3. Keep Your Shoulder Blades Tucked Into Your Back
This is so important that even though it could be under practice good form this deserves to be highlighted by itself. Keeping your your shoulder blades tucked into your back gives strength and stability to your shoulder girdle which helps to protect your neck. After reaching the top and not straining your neck over the bar lower yourself in a controlled manner to the bottom position and repeat.
4. Use A Chair
If you can't do pull ups or as many as you would like with proper form use a chair to make the movement easier. The closer the chair is to your body the easier it will be. To start you can place both feet on the chair and as you gain strength you can just use one leg and begin placing the chair farther away. This will allow you to gain strength and the ability to do multiple pull ups with no assistance.
5. Warm Up
We are all so busy in the modern world that it is easy to try and skip our warm up and just jump straight into our exercise routines. It is important to do about 5 minutes of cardio to get the blood flowing followed by some ballistic stretching including
6. Neck Stretches
These will help to loosen up the neck and relieve tension. I find the two neck stretches in the P90X resistance day warm ups are effective for me. I especially like the chicken wing neck stretch.
7. Cool Down
Also just as important as warming up is proper cool down. You don't need to focus as much on just the neck here as total body. Stretching helps to set the stage for recovery which only happens if you
8. Get Enough Sleep
You can only recover and heal your body while sleeping. Eight hours of sleep is a good goal but I have read recommendations for getting up to ten hours of sleep if you exercise hard! So grab your pillow and get to work.