Neck Bridging Always Damage the Neck?

I used to neck bridging and loved it but after a while I noticed it was really messing up my neck, especially the joints in my neck so I stopped.

Does anyone here do neck bridging without it damaging your neck?

I find that I only need to bridge for a couple of secs at a times (maybe 10 sec.s total over a week in 3 or 4 sittings while I'm stretching or warming up) and I maintain my ability to do it comfortably, both forward and back.

I'm more concerned with my ability to go through extreme ranges of motion without pain or injury, so I usually spend MUCH more time doing neck rolls and neck-balancing type activities to make sure I don't hurt myself if someone stacks me.

Bridging is sort of a technique as much (or more) as it is an exercise; if you don't use it as a techniue, i think its less important for it to be a staple.

You can also stretch your neck on a regular basis; I find it to be best to hang upside down in some way that doesn't involve the use of your arms (if your traps are tight, you won't get a good stretch). I usually hang from my knees on a pullup bar while lightly gripping my pants with my hands (to avoid having to hold my arms up); I find this to give a nice, decompressing stretch.

Bridging, correctly done, will not hurt most people. The problem is that it is rarely done correctly, with the focus on pushing the hips towards the ceiling and really arching the back.

Like anything else there is a progression to a full bridge. You also don't need to go nose-to-floor to get the benefits of it.

So, in short--don't be stupid and push too far, too fast. Neck problems suck ass.

The problem is that it is rarely done correctly, with the focus on pushing the hips towards the ceiling and really arching the back. 

So. . .are you saying this is incorrect??

I learned how to bridge from Matt furey books and vids. Is that the right way?

pfsjkd - 

The problem is that it is rarely done correctly, with the focus on pushing the hips towards the ceiling and really arching the back. 

So. . .are you saying this is incorrect??

No, that's actually exactly what I was talking about as good form. A lot of time people who have never done them end up not focusing on keeping a good arch, which forces them to arch the neck excessively. If you have the flexibility to do them correctly they are fine.

So what you're saying is the focus should be on the hips and back and not on the neck. The neck-strengthening is just a positive side-effect?

Just saw a clip of a Mark Hatmaker vid on youtube and he mentions the front bridge as a good neck strengthener. He also says the back bridge isn't a neck move, but more of a back move.

Liyon - So what you're saying is the focus should be on the hips and back and not on the neck. The neck-strengthening is just a positive side-effect?

The strengthening aspects are with supporting the position. WizzleTeats is pointing out that when stretching into position you should not be trying to stretch your neck back. You use the mobility of your hips and back to get into position. It doesn't really matter where on the head you land (top of the head, forehead, or nose) because it will work hard to support you anyway.

I screwed up my neck in a car wreck last year. My chiro has been putting it back together. After about a month of stretching, he had me start doing strengthening exercises. One of them was the neck bridge. He said the only danger people get is from doing way too much too fast.

Good thread... I've done and still do lots of neck bridging because the sport basically requires you have a good bridge. But you have to work up to it, that's for sure.

I posted this on the main forum because I see so many threads about neck training:

My name is Jim Kelly. About 10 years ago I broke my neck grappling, the doctor said that if I didn't do the neck exercise program that I do, I would've surely been paralyzed or even died.

I recently read about a person that broke his neck doing the upside down guard in class. The one thing that I know is that every single day that you grapple, you have the potential of injuring your neck.

But this can be avoided.

Neck Exercises are the most neglected aspect of a grappler's training. Ask yourself when is the last time you worked on your neck?

But every single day we put our necks at risk. One of BJJ's deep dark secrets is that many people end up with herniated discs in their necks. But no one tells you this when you first start.

Well I'm here to let you know, that before it happens to you, you need to do something about it. If it has already happened to you, then you need to make sure you protect yourself in case it happens again. That's if you're even still training.

I'm offering free tips and workouts that can help solve this problem at my new site

If you've already experienced any neck problems, I would love to hear from you. There are lots of us out here.

Jim Kelly 

 listen to this man and you'll be too busy looking good

 to have neck problems, that is

Please understand, if I missed anyone, it's been a big day. I'm a little tired.

 that jim kelly, he's like something out of a comic book.

I've done them all my life, but within the last year or so, I've noticed that they've been hurting my fucking skull like the dickens!

Front bridges have been killing me lately.....I don't know if it's the mats I'm on, or if I just never realized how much they hurt!

I found that bridging was fine for the first 5 or 6 years of my BJJ career.  Then my neck started to consistently hurt after bridging, so I don't do it anymore.  There are other neck strengthening exercises (harnesses, etc) that don't hurt my neck, so I do those.  I'm happy to accept a bit less sports-specificness by not bridging in return for less neck pain

 I think neck bridging is great, but not for everyone. And of course, they've gotta be built up to. Most neck bridging injuries happen because guys will see a picture of guys bridging with their nose touching the mat, or with crazy weights, and they'll just go and try that stuff without having the foundation strength in the first place.

Plus, a good warm up is needed BEFORE you even attempt to bridge. More or less warm up depending on how strong your neck is. Neck bridging is easy for some who have strong necks and of course for those who train their necks on a regular basis. Plus, if you're doing neck bridges, you better make sure your back is warmed up too.

The doctors told me never to do neck bridges again after my injury, but I do them all the time. I have to because my sport pretty much demands it. And I had to build up my neck strength slowly in order to make sure I don't overdo things (which I tend to do with all aspects of training).

Do I think everyone should be doing neck bridges? Well, I don't think it's necessary to build a strong neck. You can do plenty of other direct neck exercises that stress your neck muscles enough to get bigger and stronger. But we're grapplers - and if you're a grappler, and especially and wrestler, you'd better have a good bridge because the fact is, if you don't, you'll be at a significant disadvantage - and the slightest advantage can be the difference between silver and gold.

Go slow, make sure you get a good warm up, and if you try to bridge and it starts to hurt, stop.

I have a warm spot in my heart for neck bridges, because they were a HUGE part of my neck training before my injury, and I was able to build up my neck a lot from doing them, at first with my own bodyweight, then I'd start adding weights. You'll make good gains in size and strength if you stay consistent with these.

Here's a tip: don't just "hang out" on the top of your head and stay there, not moving. That's one way to do it, but really, to get the most out of it, you need to be moving. Up and down, side to side, and you can hit some angles too. You'll work your neck muscles more if you move rather than just stay in one spot. (I'll provide video demonstrations soon to show you.)

Also, don't push it too hard as far as range of motion goes with regards to bridging. For example, if you go all out and try to touch your nose to the mat the first few times you work on neck bridging, you may experience some pain. Remember, just go slow. Perform neck bridges with a range of motion that's comfortable for you.

If you want to work on flexibility, stretch out your neck manually after you're all warmed up and after you train. Stretch the front, back and sides; just be careful, relax and breathe while you do this.

I'm going to have to film a video this week of different neck bridges you can do, I'll put them on my blog and I'll post here when they're up.

In the meantime, you can go to and check it out. If you read the newspaper articles on there about my neck injury, I think you'll agree that directly training your neck specifically for grappling and combat sports will be one of the best decisions you could ever make for your health.

Respect. No Excuses!

Jim Kelly

Team Lloyd Irvin

Great insight and suggestions by all; however, I am unsure why bridging is necessary for grapplers. The way jiu jitsu guys bridge is using shoulders, not from the top of their heads. Bridging exercises of this nature certainly would have sport specific applications. Bridging exercises that Furey and others do with all the weight on the head and feet would have sport specific applications if that is the way they (or others) perform bridge while grappling. I do not and think it obvious that that kind of bridge can really compress the discs in your neck and can cause significant adverse health condition. If someone has ruptured disc in their neck, why would anyone advocate putting more pressure on an area already injured?