Part 3: Scapular Stability and Neck Freedom (No More Neck Pain)

By Chris Carlsen

Part 3: Scapular Stability and Neck Freedom (No More Neck Pain)

To conclude the neck positioning series, I will show you how we can make sure the neck is properly aligned, allowing one to increase their health and power potential.

The neck should always have the potential to be free.  I don't want you to go moving your neck under heavy load, I'm just saying that the neck should always have the ability to move if it needs to. I use this teaching tool with light weights as a way to increase movement awareness and highlight proper alignment.

When the head, neck, and torso align perfectly, they form a harmonious postural relationship.  In other words, when our bodies are properly stacked during exercise, this allows us great freedom and an enhanced capacity for global movement.

The best and safest way to get the student to connect with this postural relationship is with a standing body weight lateral and/or rear deltoid raise, followed by a seated row and push-up. In the push-up and row, I usually see a faulty neck pattern. One in which the student is leading with the neck. Instead of using the scapular muscles in a synergistic way, the trainee will compensate by using the neck as a stabilizer. The neck is supposed to be free and this compensation will lead to neck and shoulder tightness and impingement's.If your stabilizers are not strong enough to handle the load, we will then get our stabilization from somewhere else. This is a great human survival mechanism but one that we would rather not use. It will lead to a tight, weak and beat-up body.


This is the exact relationship that occurs in a well-executed TGU. Of particular note, the TGU also promotes proper alignment of the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spines, as one’s eyes are continuously fixated (neck freedom) on the kettlebell (with the exception of the lunge position), which forces this spinal configuration. Without scapular stabilization a fixed gaze and on the bell would not be possible, the neck would not be allowed to move freely through each step of the exercise and movement functionality would be compromised.