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Can Neck Strength be Measured Using a Single Maximal Contraction in a Simulated Contact Position?

Salmon, Danielle M.1; Handcock, Phil J.1; Sullivan, Stephen John2; Rehrer, Nancy J.1; Niven, Brian E.3

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: August 2018 - Volume 32 - Issue 8 - p 2166–2173
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001874
Original Research
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Salmon, DM, Handcock, PJ, Sullivan, SJ, Rehrer, NJ, and Niven, BE. Can neck strength be measured using a single maximal contraction in a simulated contact position? J Strength Cond Res 32(8): 2166–2173, 2018—Neck strengthening has been postulated to potentially reduce the incidence and severity of concussions and neck injuries in collision-based sports. A quick and reliable method to assess neck strength would permit identification of those at risk and tracking of progress after injury. The purpose of this study was to determine if neck strength could be reliably assessed in a simulated contact posture using a single maximal contraction. During a single session, 30 healthy male university students performed 3 maximal voluntary contractions of the neck musculature in each of the following directions: extension (Ext), flexion (Flx), left lateral flexion (LtFlx), and right lateral flexion (RtFlx). To evaluate the reliability of these measures, intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) were calculated. The findings revealed a significant effect for direction (p < 0.01), where Ext (234.8 N) tested stronger than Flx (141.0 N), LtFlx (134.5 N), and RtFlx (123.0 N). In addition, Flx tested stronger than RtFlx (p = 0.03). No other differences were observed between LtFlx and RtFlx. When the combined mean values of the trials (1: 151.6 N, 2: 160.0 N, 3: 163.5 N) and the interaction contrast were compared, these were not significant (p = 0.08–1.0), indicating no changes in peak force occurred over the 3 trials. The ICC values for Ext, RtFlx, and LtFlx were all “excellent” (0.91–0.94), whereas Flx demonstrated “good” reliability (0.86). In a simulated contact posture, a reliable measure of peak force was obtained using a single maximal contraction. This may have practical applications for the quick and reliable assessment of contact sport athletes in a position that has functional relevance to their sports.

1School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand;

2Center for Health, Activity and Rehabilitation Research, School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand; and

3Center for the Application of Statistics and Mathematics, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Address correspondence to Dr. Danielle Salmon, Danielle.salmon@otago.ac.nz.

Copyright © 2018 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.