Maximal isometric strength of the cervical musculature in 100 healthy volunteers

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1999 Jul 1;24(13):1343-8. doi: 10.1097/00007632-199907010-00012.


Study design: A descriptive study involving maximal isometric strength measurements of the cervical musculature.

Objectives: To determine the maximal isometric strength of the flexors and extensors and of the cervical musculature in 100 healthy volunteers (50 men and 50 women).

Summary of background data: The literature contains only a few descriptive studies pertaining to strength levels of the cervical musculature. These studies include small subject populations, and measurement methods have demonstrated weak reliability.

Methods: Testing was carried out using strain-gauge technology on a neck muscle training apparatus.

Results: A reliability study demonstrated acceptable intraday and day-to-day values. Maximal isometric strength was approximately 20% to 25% higher in male subjects than female subjects in both flexion and extension from the third to the sixth decades. In the seventh decade, the women's strength levels surpassed values for men in both flexion and extension. Extension-flexion ratios were approximately 1.7 to 1 in both the men and women participants. The men demonstrated a significant decrease in maximal isometric strength with increasing age in both flexion and extension, whereas the women were able to maintain strength values in the ages tested.

Conclusions: Men and women demonstrate impressive levels of muscular strength in the flexors and extensors of the cervical spine and can maintain these values until the seventh decade of life. Successful rehabilitation of the cervical musculature will require considerable resistance for sufficient stimulation of the cervical musculature.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck Muscles / physiology*
  • Reference Values
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sex Characteristics