Neck soreness is extremely common in gym goers and people who work a desk job. "Spin class, overhead lifting, yoga, and sitting at a computer all day are the most common culprits," says Marty Jaramillo, a founder and CEO of I.C.E. Sports Therapy in New York City. Due to the nature of these activities, the muscles between your shoulder blades and surrounding the neck begin to fatigue, which can cause pain. When your muscles and tissues tighten to protect you, nerve endings can be pinched in the process, explains Jaramillo. In extreme cases, a herniated disc can pinch the nerves and you should seek medical treatment. Here are his tips to keep neck pain at bay.
If you sit at a desk all day, try this rule of thumb: set your desk, chair, and monitor height so that your knees, hips, and elbows are each bent at a 90 degree angle. "If you ask, many human resource departments will give you an ergonomic screening to get the heights right," says Jaramillo, "If nothing else, get up at least once an hour and do some basic stretching."
Ice, Then Heat
Ice can help to reduce swelling in the area and numb some of the pain. "I always recommend ice within the first 48 to 72 hours, then switch to heat after that," says Jaramillo.
Roll It Out
If the pain is just generalized tightness and stiffness that is not restricting any motion, Jaramillo suggests rolling on a small ball to give yourself acupressure therapy. He recommends a lacrosse ball because it's harder, but a tennis ball would also work. If the pain and stiffness are limiting your motion, then simply take a few days to rest or see your doctor.
Stretching the muscles between your shoulder blades is the number one way to prevent neck soreness. "And the best time to stretch is always at the end of a workout, when the muscles are warm," says Jaramillo. Try his 5 Neck Stretches That Reduce Soreness.