Have you ever been out running and experienced neck pain either during or after your run? Running is a sport that primarily uses your legs, so I’m sure you’re wondering “Why does my neck hurt after running?”. It would make sense for the lower body to feel most of the work, yet for many people, it can take a toll on the upper body.
Poor running form is a common reason why many find their neck hurt after running. Simple ways to fix this include relaxing the hands, keeping the head and neck aligned to your upper body, and open out your chest by bringing the shoulders back a bit. These simple technical fixes will help relieve tension and stress that builds up in the neck during running.
When you’re out for your next run I highly suggest keeping in mind all of the tips we are about to get into. Following these technical tips will help you not only have a safer run but a more effective run too. Once you get used to running with proper form you will quickly notice how much better your runs will become since you wont have to deal with pain and you will no longer have to wonder “Why does my neck hurt after running?”.
Disclaimer: If you are experiencing serious neck pain, seek out a doctor immediately to get a diagnosis and find out more about your situation. A doctors advice should be taken over anything you find online because your doctor will understand your situation best and can give you the best advice specific to your situation. Once your doctor says you’re healed and you can run safely again, I suggest implementing the technical tips below to ensure safety while running and avoid further pain.
Lets go into detail on each of the tips I recommend. These tips will include both technical form improvements and advice on what you should be doing when you aren’t running to help your body, specifically your neck, stay pain free.
A common mistake when running is to let the head either lean forward or back. This will most commonly happen when you begin to experience fatigue, your head will fall forward or fall back because you have become tired during your run. The issue with this is when your head goes into these positions it starts to stress the upper back and neck. This is because, the head is heavy, so as you lean towards a certain position while running, tension quickly builds up and stiffness can occur. This is why many people say their neck hurt after running.
My suggestion for this is, when you’re running, keep in mind your head position. Try to keep your head and neck aligned to your body, imagine a ruler is placed on your head to your lower back, you want that ruler to lay flat on your head to your back, this is how you’ll know you have good posture overall. Just align your head position so it is aligned with your neck and torso and you will notice a significant improvement while running and less pain overall. Many people will find no longer does their neck hurt after running.
Relax Your Hands
Another common reason why people experience neck pain from running is due to tension in the shoulders, neck, and arms. This tension will quickly build up while you’re performing any physical activity, especially running. Tension in these areas will cause stiffness and pain either during or after your running session.
There is an amazing technical trick to fixing this. Imagine you’re holding a potato chip in each hand, have each have formed in a way that resembles holding a potato chip. Now, the goal is to hold the potato chip just enough so that you’re extremely relaxed in the hands but can still keep the potato chip from falling or breaking. If your hands are so tight that the potato chip will break, then this is incorrect form and probably why you’re feeling your neck hurt after running. Keep relaxed to the point where you can still gently hold the potato chip.
This technique is extremely effective because you’ll notice after relaxing the hands, the arms will become more relaxed, then the shoulders will become more relaxed, and finally the neck will become more relaxed. Many coaches teach this method and its used to keep the upper body as relaxed as possible while running, if you are running long distances with tension in the upper body, you will find your neck hurt after running very often.
Open The Chest
Pay attention to your upper body, this means your head, shoulders, and chest. If you are slouching forward as you run, this is a huge problem. The issue with this is you’re leaning your weight forward and causing the muscles to work and stress in an uncomfortable position. This bad posture habit will quickly build up stress and tension in the neck and lead to neck pain from running. This can be a core reason why many peoples neck hurt after running. This issue becomes much more common once you hit fatigue, which is why you need to keep aware of your posture at all times during running.
To fix this, you simply just have to bring your shoulders back, squeeze your shoulder blades closer to each other, but do not over exaggerate the position or this can lean to tension in the upper back which will travel into the neck. Your goal is just to open the chest and you’ll notice after opening the chest, your body will slightly lift up. This is very good and the ideal position you want to be in while running.
Many people who find their neck hurt after running will have this common issue, its common amongst even people who have ran for years, this usually occurs during fatigue, as our forms generally break down once we become very tired. The key is to keep these technical tips in mind and always try to never break these rules, make sure you’re following good posture habits and good form while running to avoid neck pain from running.
Improve Upper Body Flexibility
Now that I’ve gone through the technical tips, I want these next tips to be about healthy improvements for the body that can be done before or after running. If have a tight upper back, it is very common to notice neck pain, because the upper backs tightness will cause stress and that stress will travel both up and down the back, leading to pain in many areas. The solution to this is to stretch the back to improve flexibility, but not just the back, I suggest stretching the upper back, the shoulders, and your neck. Doing this will help improve flexibility and will keep you much safer from pain and injury.
I have some recommended articles for you to look at which will show you neck, shoulder, and upper back stretches which will improve flexibility and prevent further neck pain from occurring during your runs. I suggest doing some of these stretches at least 3 times a week to see improvements.
Stretch Before And After Running
I highly suggest stretching both before and after running. But I suggest stretching before as a warm up and I lean towards this side because, if you’re just jumping into a run and haven’t warmed up, your body is getting a shock and the transition is too fast. Also your body needs to loosen up and prepare for a run, if you go into a run stiff and with tension, that feeling will only grow and become much worse as you run.
I highly suggest looking at this article to learn more about stretching and warming up before your runs. If you’re experiencing neck pain after running and wondering why does your neck hurt after running, I highly suggest reading that article to learn some decent warm ups and stretches to do before your runs.
As for after running, I suggest stretching because after your run you will have built up tension and stress in certain areas of the body, stretching these out can help relieve pain from occurring or relieve pain that is currently happening.
I suggest looking into a foam roller, they are incredible and will help you to give a self massage to areas of your body, rolling out different areas of your body will massage the muscles and help to relax them after a long day.
When you go out for your next run, keep all of these tips in mind and put them into practice. Try doing these tips as often has you can on each run, if you find yourself falling back into your old habits, quickly readjust and follow the tips you learned above. These tips will help prevent you from having neck pain after running. So for anyone who had been wondering why their neck hurt after running, you can follow these tips and you’ll feel much better after your runs.