Neck Pain After Lifting Weights: Causes & Injury Impacts

A man experiences neck pain after lifting weights.

Fitness enthusiasts may frequently experience neck pain after lifting weights. While lifting weights can be a great outlet and may substantially benefit your health, distinguishing between normal post-gym soreness and pain that could signal an underlying issue, such as poor posture, is essential.

Fortunately, there are ways to treat neck pain and prevent it from returning. This article explains the neck’s role in the body, what causes neck pain after lifting weights, and how partnering with an experienced chiropractor could eliminate your pain and keep it from returning.

Discussion Topics

What Causes Neck Pain After Lifting Weights?

During weightlifting exercises, the neck provides structure and support for the body, coordinates movement, and aids in posture control to ensure proper form and performance. However, the neck’s delicate structures, including spinal discs, muscles, vertebrae, and ligaments, make it susceptible to injuries caused by:

  • Excessive loads
  • Improper form
  • Repetitive movements

This is especially true if there are postural issues such as forward head posture, as it stresses the neck and upper back muscles, compromising their function. This hampers performance, increases injury risk and disrupts neck stability due to imbalances. It’s also worth noting that these issues can be mutually reinforcing, meaning that the factors can exacerbate one another and increase the likelihood of hurting or injuring your neck when lifting weights

But are you experiencing typical gym soreness or legitimate neck pain? The chart below helps you differentiate. 

Is It Neck Pain or Normal Post-Gym Soreness?
  Normal Post-gym Soreness  Injured Neck
Onset of Pain Typically within 12-24 hours of working out Can be immediate or gradually worsen over time
Type of Pain General dull muscle soreness and stiffness  A sharp, localized pain in the neck area
Intensity of Pain Mild to moderate Severe pain that may limit movement
Duration of Pain Usually resolves after 2-3 days Persistent and can worsen over days or weeks
Range of Motion A potential temporary decrease in flexibility  Limited range of motion and difficulty moving neck
Additional Symptoms Fatigue, mild swelling, tenderness Numbness, tingling, headaches, dizziness, and weakness
Effect on Everyday Activities No significant impact on daily activities  Hinders daily activities due to restricted turning or lifting of the head
Recurrence of Symptoms Less likely to occur with subsequent workouts Symptoms can persist or worsen with continued workouts
Need for Treatment None unless symptoms become worse or last longer than a few days Recommended to seek professional evaluation and treatment

The Neck’s Role in the Body 

The neck, which contains a portion of the cervical spine consisting of seven small vertebrae and many muscles and ligaments, provides structural support and range of motion to the body and supports the weight of the head, allowing it substantial flexibility.

The neck is a crucial central nervous system component, as it houses and protects the portion of the spinal cord that connects to the brain. A properly functioning neck allows you to twist, bend, or tilt your head. A complex array of soft tissue, such as muscles and ligaments, helps facilitate these movements.

When lifting weights, the muscles in the neck, such as the trapezius and sternocleidomastoid, stabilize the head and neck to help the neck maintain a neutral spinal position. This is pivotal in maintaining proper form and minimizing the risk of injury. 

How a Chiropractor Can Help With Neck Pain

If you have suffered an injury or have poor neck posture, working with a chiropractor is an excellent option for treating your pain and providing an effective first line of defense against future injuries. 

This is because chiropractic care is more than a reactionary treatment; it is a holistic treatment focusing on improving your overall health and preventing neck pain after lifting weights. Chiropractors accomplish this with a host of treatment options, including:

  • Spinal adjustments: By applying gentle, controlled force to the joints of the neck with the hands or small instruments, chiropractors can address alignment issues and reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Massage therapy: Techniques such as myofascial release and trigger point therapy work into the soft tissue in the neck, relieving neck pain and improving range of motion.
  • Postural exercises: Postural exercises are designed to improve the natural posture of the neck and its components, protecting it from injury and supporting stability. 
  • Spinal traction: This technique involves slightly gentle cervical spine stretching that decompresses the neck. Pulling the neck to create space between the vertebrae relieves pressure on the discs, nerves, muscles, and joints, improving flexibility and range of motion. This can be done via manual traction or the use of traction tools such as harnesses or head halters.
  • Neuromuscular reeducation: Chiropractors use neuromuscular reeducation to train the body to hold proper posture unconsciously. This is done by retraining the communication between the nervous system and muscles to restore normal muscle function and movement patterns through a combination of corrective exercises, biofeedback techniques, and repetition. 
A woman receives chiropractic care for neck pain after lifting weights.

Enjoy Neck Pain Relief and Prevention With PostureWorks

Whether you’re new to weightlifting or a seasoned gym goer, neck pain after lifting weights can harm your future workouts. Maintaining proper posture is vital to preventing injury—that’s why at PostureWorks, we use the best chiropractic treatment options like Chiropractic BioPhysics® (CBP) to keep residents of San Francisco in the gym without worrying about pain and injury.

First, we examine your entire medical history and perform an in-depth postural analysis to get a clear picture of your spinal health and identify any misalignments. We then use this information to craft a treatment strategy that includes a combination of spinal adjustments, massage therapy, postural exercises, spinal traction, and neuromuscular reeducation, designed to address your unique needs and underlying postural issues.

With CBP from PostureWorks, you’ll be better equipped to lift weights and stay active without the fear of injury sidelining you. You’ll also have optimized performance, making you a better lifter.

Contact us today if you have neck pain after lifting weights or to schedule your appointment with PostureWorks.

Chiropractic BioPhysics®, or CBP, is a deeply researched and results-oriented corrective care technique. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine back to health and optimal function. As with all chiropractic care, CBP is conservative, painless, and non-invasive.

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