I've had numerous neck problems over the course of my grappling career, and I've had limited success strengthening my neck with things like bridges. I saw the thread about Matt Furey which you stated that bridging could actually cause injury. My question is what exercises and how do you recommend going about strengthening the neck to prevent injury and improve function for grappling.
I haven't been able to grapple much this year due to injury, but before it happened I always seemed to have problems with my neck as well..
A general strengthening program with a harness I got from EFS really seemed to help.
Extension, flexion, and isometric holds for time.
I have a harness as well, I use it sometimes, I should probably use it more regularly, but when I've started I had to stop due to injury a few times (on the mat, not with the harness).
Have you ever had anyone take a look at your neck?
No, usually if I just give it a week or two, it is back to normal again. I think inflexibility in it might be a problem, too. I haven't had a problem with it in about 6 months now. It's doing good now, so I want to strengthen it up while I have the chance.
My neck always hurt for the first several months. It stopped entirely after that.
From my experience, injuring the neck usually isn't a matter of strength but of inflexibility. Of course, this doesn't mean that you should throw out any strength training for your neck, but you should definitely include flexibility work.
Ryno made a good suggestion about using a neck harness to develop strength, and I'd further that with a deeper look at Scott's neck roll in that article.
Another way to help your game is to work with a partner and have them go through various neck cranks, chokes, etc. Start slowly with just enough pressure to feel uncomfortable and train yourself to RELAX as his effort increases.
Oh yea, and avoid bridging as a "fitness exercise". ;)