Context: Cervical resistance training has been purported to aid in reducing the severity of brain injuries in athletes.
Objective: To determine the effect of an 8-week resistance-training program on head-neck segment dynamic stabilization in male and female collegiate soccer players.
Design: Pretest and posttest control group design.
Setting: University research laboratory and fitness center.
Patients or other participants: Thirty-six National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I collegiate soccer players (17 men, 19 women).
Intervention(s): The resistance training group underwent an 8-week cervical resistance training program that consisted of 3 sets of 10 repetitions of neck flexion and extension at 55% to 70% of their 10-repetition maximum 2 times a week. Participants in the control group performed no cervical resistance exercises.
Main outcome measure(s): Head-neck segment kinematics and stiffness, electromyographic activity of the upper trapezius and sternocleidomastoid muscles during force application to the head, and neck flexor and extensor isometric strength.
Results: No kinematic, electromyographic, or stiffness training effects were seen. The posttest resistance training group isometric neck flexor strength was 15% greater than the pretest measurement. Isometric neck extensor strength in the female resistance training group was 22.5% greater at the posttest than at the pretest. Women's neck girth increased 3.4% over time regardless of training group level. Women exhibited 7% less head-neck segment length and 26% less head-neck segment mass than men.
Conclusions: Despite increases in isometric strength and girth, the 8-week isotonic cervical resistance training did not enhance head-neck segment dynamic stabilization during force application in collegiate soccer players. Future researchers should examine the effect of head-neck segment training protocols that include traditional and neuromuscular activities (eg, plyometrics) with the focus of reducing head acceleration on force application.