Why Does The Squat Bar Hurt My Neck So Much? Problem Solved For Swift Progress

L J Kudos
Why Does The Squat Bar Hurt My Neck So Much?

Why Does The Squat Bar Hurt My Neck So Much? Problem Solved For Swift Progress

The squat bar is one of the most important pieces of equipment in any gym, but for some people, it can be a real pain in the neck. 

Why does the squat bar hurt my neck so much? And what can I do to make it more comfortable? 

It can be frustrating when you’re trying to workout and your neck starts to hurt.

But there are a few things that can cause this pain, and thankfully, there are also a few things you can do to make it more bearable. 

In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the possible causes and offer some solutions. 

Why does the squat bar hurt my neck so much?

One of the most common reasons for this pain is poor form. If you’re not squatting correctly, the weight of the bar can put a lot of pressure on your neck and shoulders. To avoid this, make sure you keep your entire body engaged while you’re squatting. Tuck your chin so you’re looking straight ahead, and make sure your back is straight. It’s also important to have a good range of motion in your arms and shoulders because if you are struggling to get a comfortable position with the bar, it might be down to tight muscles or ligaments. In this case, try using a pad to support your neck and shoulders (although some people don’t like using them) and work on mobility drills and exercises to increase your range of motion to make it easier to hold the bar more comfortably. Another possible cause of neck pain during squats is a ligamentous sprain. This happens when the ligaments that support your neck are overstretched or torn. This can be extremely painful, and you might need to see a doctor if the pain is severe. It’s also important to have a good range of motion with regard to the movement itself, as if you’re not going all the way down, the bar can put unnecessary strain on your neck. You might also need to develop and build strength and upper back musculature to improve how the bar sits, while also making sure you find the right bar placement as well. As having the bar too far up your neck or down your back can cause a lot of discomfort.

Let’s now look at the reasons why the squat bar might hurt your neck and some possible solutions…

Is the exercise new to you?

If you’ve just started squatting or you’re trying a new variation, it’s to be expected that your body isn’t used to the movement and there might be some discomfort.

This is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about. Just make sure you have good form, use a lighter weight, and increase the load gradually over time as your body gets used to the movement.

When you do something new, the body has to deal with the stress and adapt to it, and this can sometimes lead to soreness or pain.

I’m not trying to say that your neck hurts specifically because you started squats recently…but the fact it’s a new movement and there’s a combination of things you need to get right in order to do it correctly can result in your neck hurting.

Also, if you changed your routine and started squatting more frequently, this might also lead to some discomfort as your body isn’t used to the new level of activity.

If you’re unsure about your form, ask a qualified trainer or coach to check it for you and give you some tips on how to improve it. 

Are you using a weight that’s too heavy?

If you’re putting too much weight on the bar, it can put a lot of strain on your neck and shoulders, which can lead to pain.

To avoid this, make sure you warm up properly with some lighter weights before going heavy and focus on good form rather than how much weight you’re lifting.

Trying to squat with a weight that’s too heavy can lead to all sorts of injuries, not just neck pain.

If you’re not sure how much weight you should be lifting, or you are new to fitness or this exercise in particular, then it is well worth getting the movement correct, before adding a broom handle or something similar to the barbell, as this will help with your form.

This is because I find body squats feel different to squatting with a barbell, and getting the movement right first will help avoid any injuries, will also allowing you to get used to how the bar feels on your back, which can feel awkward or hurt, to begin with.

Why Does The Squat Bar Hurt My Neck So Much?

Bar placement 

If the bar isn’t placed correctly on your back, it can cause a lot of discomfort.

The bar should be placed across the traps (the meaty part of your shoulders), and not too low down on your back as this can cause lower back pain.

It shouldn’t be placed too high up either, as this can put a lot of strain on your neck.

Finding the right balance can take some trial and error, but it’s important to get it right as an incorrect bar position can lead to all sorts of injuries.

One way to check if the bar is in the right position is to get someone to look at you from the side. If they can see your whole ear, then the bar is in the right place.

If it’s too low, they won’t be able to see your ear at all, and if it’s too high, they’ll only be able to see the top part of your ear.

Another way to check is to do a few reps without any weight on the bar. If you feel any pain in your neck or shoulders, then the bar isn’t in the right position.

If you aren’t careful you can get a bone bruise from the barbell hitting the same spot on your neck/shoulder every time you squat. This is why it’s important to make sure you have the bar in the right position.

Related: Why Do Some People Skip Leg Day?

Are your muscles too tight?

If your muscles are too tight, it can make it difficult to keep good form while squatting and can also lead to pain.

To avoid this, make sure you warm up properly before your workout and stretch afterwards.

Stretching before and after workouts is important anyway, but it’s especially important if you’re doing an exercise that puts a lot of strain on your body, such as squats.

Some people find that certain neck stretches help relieve the pain from squatting.

One example is the “neck roll” stretch. To do this, sit up tall and drop your chin down to your chest. Then slowly roll your head from side to side.

Another stretch is the “chin tuck” stretch. To do this, sit up tall and tuck your chin down so that your head is in a neutral position. Then slowly move your head backwards and hold for a few seconds.

Also, work on stretches to help increase your range of motion in your shoulders and arms, as this will help you hold and place the bar in a better position due to the fact you aren’t straining to hold it, which is half the battle when doing this exercise.

If you’re struggling to get into the correct position for these stretches, or you can’t hold the stretch for long without pain, then it’s a good idea to see a physiotherapist or other healthcare professional who can help you.

Reduce squat volume/frequency

If you’re squatting a lot, then it’s likely that your body isn’t getting enough time to recover between workouts.

This can lead to a build-up of tension in the muscles and can also make it difficult to keep good form while squatting.

To avoid this, try reducing the volume (the number of sets and reps) that you’re doing, or the frequency (how often you’re squatting).

Both of these will give your body more time to recover and should help reduce the pain you’re experiencing.

If you’re still struggling, then it might be a good idea to take a few days, or a week off from squatting altogether to let your body fully recover.

While we’re on the subject of recovery, make sure you’re getting enough sleep and eating a healthy diet as both of these things can help reduce the risk of injury and help your body recover from workouts.

Need to build and develop upper back musculature  

If you find that the bar is constantly slipping down your back or digs in and hurts when you squat, then it’s a good idea to work on developing the muscles in your upper back.

This will help “cushion” the bar and make it more comfortable to squat with.

Building upper back musculature is also important for good posture and it can also help alleviate back pain

Having the bar placed in position with a lack of back musculature can cause quite a bit of distress, as the bar acts as a fulcrum point, and the weight is trying to pull you forward.

The prime mover muscles in the squat are the quadriceps, with the glutes and hamstrings assisting. The erector spinae (lower back) work isometrically (tense with no movement) to keep the spine upright, along with some contribution from the abdominal muscles.

The middle and upper back muscles don’t get much of a workout during the squat, but they do work hard to stabilise and keep the barbell in place.

Some good exercises to help build up the muscles in your upper back are rows, pull-ups, and lat pull-downs.

Doing these exercises regularly will help improve your squatting form and make the exercise more comfortable overall.

Why Does The Squat Bar Hurt My Neck So Much?

Not tucking neck and looking up

If you’re not tucking your chin and keeping your head in a neutral position while you squat, then this can cause the bar to put pressure on your neck and shoulders, which can be very painful.

To avoid this, make sure you keep your chin tucked and your head in a neutral position while you squat. You should also be looking straight ahead, not up at the ceiling.

If you find it difficult to keep your head in a neutral position, then try using a pad or towel to support your neck.

It’s easy to not keep the head in a neutral position because as you strain to keep looking up, the tendency is for the chin to come up as well and before you know it, you’re looking straight up instead of ahead.

And that’s not good because it puts unnecessary strain on the neck and takes away from the power you could be generating from the legs.

So keep the chin down, eyes looking ahead, and you should be good to go.

Related: Why Do Squats Feel So Heavy?

Shoulders and arms not in proper position

If your shoulders and arms are not in the proper position while you squat, then this can make it difficult to keep good form and can also cause the bar to put pressure on your neck and shoulders.

To avoid this, make sure you keep your entire body engaged while you squat. Tuck your chin so you’re looking straight ahead, and make sure your back is straight.

It’s also important to have a good range of motion in your arms and shoulders. If you are struggling to get a comfortable position with the bar, it might be due to tight muscles or ligaments.

In this case, try using a pad to support your neck.

Not using a full range of motion

If you’re not using a full range of motion when you squat, then you’re not getting the most out of the exercise and you might also be putting yourself at risk of injury.

To get the most out of the exercise, make sure you squat all the way down so that your thighs are parallel to the ground.

If you find it difficult to squat all the way down, then try using a higher surface to rest your feet on, such as a box or a bench, while other people rest their heels on weight plates to raise their heels and get a better range of motion.

Not using a full range of motion can also lead to tight muscles and ligaments, which can make the exercise more difficult and uncomfortable.

Squatting all the way down will help ensure that your muscles are getting a good workout and will also help improve your range of motion.

Not using a full range of motion can also cause the bar to put pressure on your neck and shoulders, so make sure you squat all the way down to avoid this.

Use traps as cushioning

The trapezius muscles (traps) are a large, triangular muscle that extends from the back of the neck down to the middle of the back.

One of the functions of the traps is to stabilise the shoulder girdle, which includes the shoulder blades. The traps are also used to support the weight of the barbell during the squat.

If you find that the bar is putting pressure on your neck and shoulders, then try using your traps to cushion the weight of the bar.

To do this, simply shrug your shoulders up towards your ears and hold for a few seconds.

The traps act as a cushion for the barbell and will help to distribute the weight more evenly. This in turn will also help to reduce any pain or discomfort that could be caused by the direct pressure of the bar on bones.

It might take a few attempts to get the bar resting comfortably on your traps, but once you get it, you’ll be able to squat with ease and without any pain.

Ligamentous Sprain

A ligamentous sprain is a stretch or tear of one or more ligaments. Ligaments are the tough, fibrous bands of tissue that connect bones to other bones.

A ligamentous sprain can occur when the squat bar puts pressure on the neck and shoulders, causing the ligaments to stretch or tear.

Symptoms of a ligamentous sprain include pain, swelling, and bruising. If you think you may have suffered a ligamentous sprain, then it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Treatment for a ligamentous sprain will depend on the severity of the injury. In most cases, rest, ice, and elevation are all that are required. However, in more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the ligament.

Final thoughts…

The squat bar can hurt your neck and shoulders if you’re not using good form or if you’re not using a full range of motion.

To avoid this, make sure you keep your entire body engaged while you squat and use a full range of motion.

If the bar is putting pressure on your neck and shoulders, play around to find the right position and try using your traps to cushion the weight of the bar.

If you think you may have suffered a ligamentous sprain, then it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Following these tips will help you to avoid any pain or discomfort when squatting and will also help you to get the most out of the exercise. 

Did you experience this problem? Let me know in the comment section below.

If you enjoy sport and use CBD to help with your recovery in between gruelling workouts, then you are in the right place. Here at Sport CBDs, we train hard and recover the best way possible…

We have regular workouts (check out the YouTube channel), CBD news and CBD products to help you gain that edge! 

If you wanted to check out the reputable CBD we have on offer here at the site, then please head to the Sport CBDs Store (CLICK HERE). We also do fitness clothing and yoga accessories too. 

Until next time, all the best…

Beginners Upper Body Kettlebell Workout

Lee

Founder – Sport CBDs

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