When I first started working out, I would often notice I would have neck pain after working out. This was before I had herniated discs in my neck. This would confuse me because I would normally be doing squats, bench press, and maybe deadlift mixed up depending on the day I am working out. I wondered why I had neck pain after working out when I did no direct neck workouts. Luckily, through experience and many hours of research, I got a better understanding to the question, “Is it normal for your neck to hurt after working out?”.
It is normal for your neck to hurt after working out if you do exercises that directly target the muscles around the neck, this is usually called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. But if you’re pain doesn’t feel related to muscle soreness and more like a spinal issue or you’re having consistent pain from workouts that don’t involve the neck, you should check your form and lower the weight. If this pain continues, you should see a doctor immediately because this type of pain is not normal.
According to a study from Harvard Health Publishing “neck pain may result from overuse of muscles in the neck and shoulders (many shoulder muscles also attached to the neck), strain on the joints in the neck, or a pinched nerve in the neck or shoulder area.
So soreness is common and normal in the neck, especially for beginners, but if you have a pain that feels like it may be nerve related or spinal related, you should seek out a doctor immediately to get a diagnosis because that type of pain is not normal.
Another part of that article from Harvard Health states that “one of the biggest contributors to neck pain is poor posture during an activity. Instead of pulling the chin down for a neutral posture, some people keep the chin forward and shoulders slouched. That makes the chin stick out and creates tension in the neck and surrounding muscles”. If you’re experiencing neck pain after working out we recommend paying close attention to your form and lowering the weights for a week and see if the neck pain after working out stops or gets better. If the neck pain after working out has gotten better, then it may be a sign that your form could be an issue.
Determine Why You Have Neck Pain After Working Out
Of course if you want the best answer, consulting with a doctor would be the best option to find out “is it normal for your neck to hurt after working out?”, but if this pain is relatively new to you, then you can rule out some factors to figure out why this neck pain could be happening.
Are you still new to working out or is this the first time in a while you’ve worked out your neck? If so, you could be experiencing Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, this happens when you do an exercise your body is unaccustomed to, something your new to doing or having done in a while. This pain will usually go away after a few days and can sometimes last up to a week, depending on your diet. Make sure you have a good diet and are taking in enough protein so your muscles can repair quickly. With a poor diet this pain will last longer because the muscles are taking longer to heal your neck pain after working out.
Are you lifting more weight than you can handle with bad form? I suggest being honest with yourself and recording your form, then have some other people look at it. Make sure the people looking at your form are outside of your circle of friends, ask people online or ask someone you haven’t talked to in the gym and you know they have good form in the workout you’re doing, this way you can get honest feedback. Often your circle of friends will not tell you the whole truth, just to keep you feeling confident, but this can end up hurting you. Sometimes you need the honest truth to make yourself become better and stronger.
So “Is it normal for your neck to hurt after working out?”. Yes, if your form is bad, it is very possible you could be causing stress to your neck depending on how your form is and the workout your doing. I recommend trying the advice I mentioned above, also try to lower the weight and focus on form for a week to see if the neck pain after working out stops. If it stops, chances are the neck pain after working out was caused by the bad form and heavy lifting with bad form. If you’re doing everything safely and correctly, it is not normal for your neck to hurt after working out.
Neck Pain Relief
If you’re experiencing this neck pain after working out and you’ve gotten an idea to what the cause of this pain could be, I suggest taking action based on what you have found out. It is not normal for your neck to hurt after working out, so taking action to fix is a great first step.
Is your neck pain due to the exercise being new or your body not being used to the exercise? I suggest going light on the exercises that target the neck and making sure your getting in enough protein along with a balanced meal plan. If your diet is good, you should see the neck pain going away within 48 to 72 hours, but can sometimes last a week depending on how much you worked the muscle and depending on your diet.
Is your neck pain due to bad form and lifting too heavy? Lower the weight and fix your form, the pain should normally ease up after a week. If the pain has not gotten better after a week, I suggest seeking out a doctor to get their opinion on this situation.
Be aware of Posture and Muscle Imbalances. I highly suggest seeking out a good sports physical therapist if possible, they can really help you find out if you have any muscle imbalances and fix any posture issues. Muscle imbalances can cause all kinds of pain in different areas so I suggest looking more into this because this can be a deep topic. For posture, I recommend paying attention to how your posture is during the day, even when sitting. Make sure you stand or sit upright with a neutral head position. Do not let your head and shoulders lean forward.
If you’re having extreme neck pain, I suggest immediately seeking medical attention and seeing a doctor right away to find out more about your situation and do a diagnosis on your neck. I suggest you to not take neck injuries lightly because they are not an injury you want, this is coming from someone with two herniated discs in his neck due to sports injuries, take care of your body. I had to learn everything I am teaching you the hard way. I made these articles to make sure people don’t make mistakes I did.
Is it normal for your neck to hurt after working out? Yes if its your body isn’t used to the exercise, but it shouldn’t last longer than a week if your diet is good and you’re getting enough rest.
As long as your neck is not having any serious pain, I suggest doing some stretches to help loosen the muscles in the neck and increase blood flow to the neck. Stretching will help speed the recovery and can help prevent future injuries in the neck, as long as they’re done carefully. I will link to some articles below that go over neck stretches and yoga poses to stretch the neck.
Use a Lacrosse Ball or Foam Roller
These are both extremely effective, I suggest trying one of them out. I don’t suggest doing both of them on the same day if you’re new to using them, just pick one, they’re both great. It is not normal for your neck to hurt after working out and using these tools will help ease that neck pain.
Lean against a wall or lay on the floor with a lacrosse ball on it, place the ball behind your neck while you lay against the wall or on the floor. Then just roll your neck over the ball so it massages the muscles in your neck, don’t push into the ball too hard or you can risk hurting yourself. Do this for about a minute and just relax. It will loosen any knots in your neck and loosen the muscles around the neck too.
Lay on the floor with the foam roller on the floor, have the foam roller behind your neck while you lay on the floor. Now just roll your neck over the foam roller, up and down. Do this gently and it should massage the neck and loosen the muscles and knots.
Is it normal for your neck to hurt after working out? No it is not normal for you neck to hurt after working out. Generally it isn’t anything to worry too much about. But if the pain is serious I suggest seeking out a doctor immediately to get a diagnosis and find out more about your condition. Keep a healthy diet, good posture, and make sure you lift safely.