3 Causes of Neck Pain in Athletes


At some point or another we’ve all woken up with a “crick in our neck” or finished a workout with neck pain. Why is that? What are we doing that’s causing these annoyances? Unfortunately, it’s much more then to just stop smacking our head into the ground during handstand push-ups. When it comes to the neck, we often set the stage for an injury or pain to occur because of what we are doing outside of the gym, without even realizing it. You see, when it comes to a healthy neck, we more or less want all our the cervical joints to contribute equally to movement (ex: turning to look around). However, we can develop stiffness in certain areas because of the prolonged postures and repeated movements we engage in day in and day out. The human body is extremely resilient and rather than limit total motion because of those stiff areas, other joints will start to compensate and move more to pick up the slack. It’s often these “over-working” segments that cause the pain you experience, which can also lead to issues with the muscles surrounding them (muscle tightness/ spasm). Here are 3 causes of why neck pain occurs in athletes.

We Sit Behind a Computer All Day

When we’re stuck behind a computer screen for hours on end, we almost all fall victim to the dreaded forward head posture. We get lazy and our posture falls apart. This forward head position is one of the main culprits behind those stiff joints I mentioned earlier. It’s not just computer work either, driving posture can also wreak havoc. In both situations, we end up hunched forward which tightens up certain areas, and then rotate our neck to look around (ex: checking your mirrors). Repetitive rotations in bad posture causes micro-trauma and irritation that builds over time, eventually leading to pain and discomfort.

We Have Poor Sleeping Positions

You’ll hear me say this time and time again – sleep is the time our bodies heal and recovery. If we end up on our stomach, or in a position with a lot of neck rotation, the beat-down we put on our necks during the day will never get back to square 0. You should always wake up feeling fresh and pain-free, with no stiffness. If you don’t, you did something wrong and attention needs to be placed on getting it right.

We Have Poor Head/ Neck Position While Working Out

The position you put your head in while exercising and working out plays a major factor whether or not you’ll experience neck pain. Any time you fall into that forward head position, you are at risk. The most common exercises where this can happen includes pressing weight overhead, at the bottom of the squat or deadlift, during Olympic movements, and while performing pull-ups and handstand push-ups.

If you can just modify these bad head/ neck positions, the benefits will have a compounding effect on your health and prevent injuries from even occurring in the first place. Make adjustments as needed! For any additional questions, please reach out and sent me an e-mail!

-Dr. Andrew
[email protected]

3 Responses

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