Squats are a great compound workout that provide many benefits. They not only build you legs, but provide strength in many other compound exercises. If pain is stopping you from performing them, then you are missing out on an exceptional exercise.

Why Does My Neck Hurt After Squats?

Your form is most likely the reason. You are probably leaning too far forward or arching your back, causing too much strain on your neck.

1. Your Form Isn’t Correct

Poor form is the main cause of pain in the gym. If you are descending too quickly it may be causing you to lean forwards, which can lead to many issues while squatting. This can also happen if you can’t handle the weight on the bar, or have weak abs or glutes.

Leaning forward places unnecessary pressure on your neck and lower back. This is because it transfers the weight of the load onto your back muscles rather than your legs, which are supposed to be targeted during the squat.

Not aligning your knees with the direction of your toes is another cause. This places a lot of pressure on the knee joints.

If you are resting the barbell too much on your neck, this can cause neck pain. Try placing the bar lower down on your traps rather than the back of your neck.

Resting lots of weight on your neck is never a good idea. The bar should be rested on your traps as they can take the burden of the bar. They are more muscular and sturdy than your neck.

For more tips and an in depth look at squat form, check out this post.

2. You Aren’t Looking Forward

If your head isn’t positioned properly while you squat, it can place a lot of pressure on your neck. Try to pick a spot in the mirror or on the wall that is straight in front of you. Stare at this spot throughout the whole movement.

This will help you keep your head in one position, rather than it drifting upwards or downwards.

Make sure to not tilt your head and keep it stationary.

Also, tilt it back slightly before you begin the squat and make sure it does not creep forward. When you tilt it forwards, you are putting a lot of strain on it.

Pulling your traps back and up before the descent can also help with this. This helps create more of a shelf for the bar to rest on as well.


3. Your Back Is Not Strong Enough

But the squat is a leg exercise, right?? The squat is a compound exercise that not only requires strong legs, but also a strong core and back, and pretty much everything. Your entire body is supporting the weight and moving it up, not just your legs.

If your back isn’t strong enough to support the weight of the barbell, then your neck may feel more of the load. The more muscle your have on your upper back and trap area will cushion where the barbell rests.

To combat this, train your upper back and traps more to build up muscle in those areas. You can do so by performing face pulls, reverse dumbbells fly’s, pull-ups and many others.

Focus on compounds such as the dead lift and barbell row for maximum back muscle growth.

After building up more back muscle, you should notice an increase in squat efficiency and a decrease in neck pain.

If you still want to squat until you build up more back muscle, you can consider using a bar pad. They will cushion your neck, preventing pain while still allowing you to squat heavy.

Grab a cheap one here on amazon if your gym doesn’t have them.

4. You Are Using Too Much Weight

Putting too much weight on the bar will cause you to break form and lean forwards, which causes strain on the neck. If you can’t perform the rep with perfect form, then you should use less weight. It’s more important to properly execute the rep then throw on as much weight as you can.

Too much weight can lead to serious injury. Neck injury is not something you want to have.

Having too much weight on the bar can also cause you to fail the rep, resulting in your having to drop the bar off your back, which can seriously hurt your neck.

Having heavyweight compressing your neck can also lead to inflammation and bruising of the neck.

5. You Haven’t Been Squatting For Long Enough

If you have recently started squatting there is a good chance you will experience neck pain from the bar resting on you. Your trap muscles won’t be used to having heavyweight lying on them and this can be a reason for pain. Start with lighter weight until your traps get used to the weight and are no longer sore.

If your legs are new to squatting they may not be able to take the weight, causing you too lean forward putting the strain on your neck and back.

Squat more frequently and practice proper form.

This will strengthen all the muscles needed in the squat, helping take your neck out of the movement. Your traps will also get stronger, preventing neck pain.

How To Fix A Stiff Neck

Okay, you’ve learned how to prevent neck pain, but what if you’ve already destroyed your neck in your last squatting session? Here’s some tips to heal your neck so that you can get back in the gym as soon as possible.

You could either have a muscle spasm or just sore neck muscles.

Stretching is a great way to reduce neck pain. Try rolling your shoulders back and down a few times. Squeezing your shoulder blade together will also help.

Bringing your ear to your left shoulder and then your right a few times will help reduce neck stiffness.

Try using a foam roller to reduce pain in your traps. For more information on foam rolling, click here.

Sleep position is another thing that can affect neck pain. Only sleep on your side or back rather than your stomach. Sleeping on your stomach leads to the head turning too much each way, causing further neck pain.

Applying heat or ice may also help reduce pain. Pain receivers can also help. Avoid activities that may cause sudden movement to your neck as this will cause worse pain.

Visiting a physical therapist or getting a massage are great ideas if the pain persists.

Let me know if any of these tips helped and if you have any questions or suggestions!

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