Neck Pain From Lifting Weights

Neck Pain From Lifting Weights

Have you ever experienced neck pain from lifting weights? When it comes to weight lifting, people are often concerned about their lower back being at risk, but your neck is almost as vulnerable. If you experience neck pain when from lifting weights, your body is telling you something wrong. You need to implement some changes into your routine and we’re going to discuss some of those changes in this article.

Neck pain from lifting weights is usually caused by poor form, lifting more weight than you can currently handle, bad posture during weight lifting, putting too much pressure on your neck and jaw during a workout, or not stretching enough.  Focusing on good fitness habits such as maintaining good form, good posture, and consistent stretching can help ease this pain.

Disclaimer: If you’re still experiencing neck pain and it has not gotten better, it is highly recommended to consult with a doctor immediately. Get a diagnosis done and have your doctor consult with you to find a treatment plan to help relieve the neck pain. Take a doctors advice over any advice you find online because your doctor will know you best.

Now lets get into detail on some changes you can make in your routine to eliminate neck pain from lifting weights completely.

Focus On Form

Neck Pain From Lifting Weights focus on form

No matter what exercise you do, you should research the proper form and make sure you stick to it. Always prioritize form over weight, because if you lift with good form, you’ll not only get a better workout, but you’ll reduce the risk of injury.

For example, lets say you’re doing an overhead press, with either dumbbells or a barbell, there were instances when I did this exercise and pushed myself too hard, not focusing on form, and I pinched a nerve in my neck. When I pinched a nerve in my neck, I had lost mobility in my neck for about a week, I couldn’t fully turn my neck left or right, in my situation, I had a previous neck injury, so I had been more susceptible to a pinched nerve.  But this is why I say focus on form because when you are lifting heavy and not lifting with good form, you can easily hurt yourself.

Start off your workouts slow to warm up, focus on perfect form, and do a few warmup sets this way so you build good form habits from the start. Doing this will significantly reduce neck pain from lifting weights and can get rid of it completely.

Lower The Weight

Neck Pain From Lifting Weights

Lifting heavy isn’t a bad thing, as long as you can lift the weight with good form. Lifting heavier weight than you can handle is where the problem is. As you start lifting weight that is too heavy for you, your form breaks down, and it only gets worse as you get into more sets, because as you get tired, your form gets worse. Now you’re in a vulnerable position and lifting heavy weight.

Lets take the deadlift as an example, if you’re lifting more weight than you can handle, your form breaks down, your lower and upper back rounds, your neck will lean forward too much, all of this can be a cause of why you’re experiencing neck pain from lifting weights. You’re not only putting your neck in a bad position but you’re stressing your lower and upper back, when you experience pain in those parts of the body, it isn’t uncommon for that pain to travel through to other areas, such as the neck.

Maintain A Balanced Posture

neck pain when looking down good posture

When your standing or sitting to lift weights, you should always keep good, straight posture. Make sure your head and neck are aligned straight with the rest of your body, do not lean your head forward or in any direction because now the center of gravity of your heavy has been shifted off balance and your neck has to work harder to carry that weight. This is a common cause of neck pain.

A common issue that happens when lifting weights, is people will put their head into awkward positions, such as tilting to the sides or leaning their heads too much forward. Doing this during a workout will add the stress and tension of the workout to your neck. This is because as you’re lifting weight, you’re using force to lift that weight or push it, if your head is in a bad position, you could apply some of that pressure to your neck while working out.

Always try to keep your body aligned, or at the least keep your head and neck in a safe position. This will vary between certain exercises, which is why it is a good idea to learn perfect form in all your exercises.

Relax Your Neck And Jaw

Neck Pain From Lifting Weights relax jaw and neck

A common habit of many lifters is to either clinch their jaws very tightly and flex their neck muscles during a heavy lift, this is a bad habit. Doing this during a very heavy lift such as a squat or deadlift will apply too much stress to the neck and cause major pain in the neck area. This is a very common reason why people often experience neck pain from lifting weights. I suggest whenever you work out, try to pay attention to how relaxed your jaw and neck are during the workout to see if you’re applying too much tension to them.

Just try to relax your jaw, don’t clinch your jaw. Leave your mouth open a bit if you must and breath through your mouth, this can be good practice to keep your jaw relaxed. For your neck, its best to relax the shoulders and not squeeze the traps or any muscles in the neck as this can cause neck pain very easily, especially during heavy lifts. Implementing these habits will help to reduce or completely help stop your neck pain from lifting weights. This is a very common habit and I’ve made this mistake many times.

Stretch More Often

Should I Do Yoga If My Neck Hurts reduced stress

Something overlooked by many people is stretching. Most people either don’t have the time for it or just don’t want to do it. But stretching is vital and I feel it goes hand in hand with working out. Its just as they say, diet is more important than the actual weight lifting, stretching is almost as important as weight lifting in my opinion.

As you lift weights and build muscles, your body will begin to tighten and become less flexible, a good way to combat this is to consistently stretch every week, at least 3 times a week. This will help you improve flexibility as you build muscles and prevent you from not being able to touch your back like you’ll see some bodybuilders are not able to do.

Stretching will also help to ease the neck pain, if you have tightness in certain areas of the body, this can cause pain in that area and that pain can travel to nearby areas in the body. Improving flexibility helps ease this pain and also helps you prevent injuries. Think of flexibility as an extra layer of protection for your body, you will be less susceptible to injury.

I have many articles on stretching, especially for neck pain, I highly suggest checking them out, I’ll link them below.

Top 5 Best Neck Stretches for Neck Pain Relief

Yoga for Neck Pain and Tension! 5 AMAZING STRETCHES!


Implementing these tips into your weight lifting routine should help to reduce or completely eliminate neck pain from lifting weights. I’ve often experienced this pain myself, especially with my previous neck injury, but by following these tips and keeping them in my weight lifting routines, I have been able to train pain free despite the fact that I have 2 herniated discs in my neck from combat sports injures.

If you are experiencing neck pain from lifting weights, I highly suggest paying attention to form and trying to pay attention to everything I’ve mentioned above, along with implementing those tips because they will help, and they’re the same tips I’ve gotten from my physical therapists, which I followed when I first started recovering from my neck injuries.

Always think before you lift, leave the ego at the door and lift safely. Start all your lifts slow, with a warm up, when warming up, try to focus on perfect form so when you begin lifting your normal weights and start pushing yourself, you enforced those good form habits from the start.

These are some other articles I highly recommend reading.

Is your workout giving you a stiff neck?

Lifting properly to avoid neck pain

If you are still experiencing neck pain after a week and it has no reduced or has gotten worse, I highly recommend seeing a doctor immediately. Work with your doctor to figure out the best plan for you and follow their advice over anyone on the internet, even me. This is because your doctor will know and understand your situation better than anyone else. They will know the best treatment plan to get you back healthy and pain free, so you can begin lifting weights again.

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