Neck pain when exercising
When it comes to muscle soreness, there is pain that can be tolerated and worked through, and then there is the pain you need to sit down and listen. Not seeing the difference between the two is a serious problem because there are injuries that, if they continue to persist, may require more time to heal.
Learning the differences, and especially knowing what common pains you need to be aware of, will help ensure that you are able to maintain your workout and stay free from injury.
What causes neck pain when exercising
Neck pain can be caused by overuse of the muscles in the neck and shoulder (many shoulder muscles are also attached to the neck), pinched nerve in the neck or shoulder strain on the joints in the neck.
One of the major contributors to neck pain when exercising is poor mobility during workout. Slouched shoulders and protruded chin can create tension in the neck and surrounding muscles. The trapezius muscles bear the brunt of that stress. It is a large diamond-shaped muscle that begins at the base of the skull, widens at the shoulders, and extends to the center of the back. Severe, excruciating pain, or you may experience headaches from the muscles below the skull. In the case of an extended neck, they are stiff and irritated.
It is always important to pay close attention to your form, if you experience sudden pain, most especially during heavy lifting. This pain you must not ignore can be the result of blood vessels being overloaded due to pressure, or the gripping muscles that have difficulty coping with the weight you are lifting.
Always at all times maintain a straight back and keep your shoulders back and down. If you are not, they may taking some of the force of the weight, which, can eventually lead to a strain in this area of the body or injuries.
How to avoid neck pain when exercising
Always carefully monitor the position of your head and the tone of the muscles in your neck, especially when doing exercises such as planks, crunches, squats and overhead presses.
- Your head should always be in a straight line with your spine. Do not let it move forward or backward, and be sure that the muscles in your neck do not pop or tense as you lift.
- Make sure the equipment you are lifting is suitable. Yes, challenge yourself, but do it safely. Be especially careful when you press the weight over your head.
- You should work to strengthen your neck. When one part of the body has more energy than the other, weak muscles become strained when you use the right weights that are appropriate, but heavy on the weak link.
Neck pain exercises
You can work your neck muscles just like any other muscle. Stretch work, but you can also do simple exercises like the ones below. They can increase the strength of your neck and the range of motion of this exercise.
For each of these, start with five repetitions each and see if you can build up to 10. Ask your doctor before you start.
Try the following exercises to help build your neck strength:
- Band neck work: Lie on your stomach, your forehead on the floor with the resistance band lying on the back of your head. Your hands resting on the floor, on each side of your head, so that they can anchor the band. Now, keep your chin straight as you raise your head from the floor. Consider stretching using the crown of your neck. Keep your eyes down. Hold for five seconds, then release. Repeat five to 10 times.
- Neck tilt: From where you are sitting, tilt your head down so that your chin touches your chest. Hold this position for 5 seconds. Return to the starting position and repeat. Do this five times.
- Side to side neck tilt: From the same starting point, bend your neck toward one shoulder, leading with your ear. Hold for 5 seconds, then repeat for the other side of your neck. Do this for each side.
- Neck turn: Look straight ahead, then turn your head to the other side, keeping your chin at the same level. Do this for each side.
- Neck stretch: keep your whole body straight, push your chin forward, and stretch your throat. Hold for 5 seconds. From the same starting point, push your chin back and hold for 5 seconds. Move back and forth five times each.
- If any of these exercises cause severe pain or weakness in your hands or arms, stop immediately and talk to your doctor.
Even if you take precautionary measures, a stiff neck may still occur. If stiffness in the neck persists or is accompanied by disturbing symptoms, such as headaches or arm pain, consult a physician.