I've been having a few issues with my neck recently. I think I got a neck strain because it was painful also when resting and it's been lasting for two weeks now.

The process that got me here I think is this:

First day: shoulder day (mostly lateral raises and high pulls with a bit of external rotation to avoid shoulder impingment and a bit of rotator cuff extercises)

Second day: deadlift (here I think I just didn't realize how much effort the upper back is put through not to allow the shoulders to be pulled down by the bar. so, my bad)

Third day: side plank with poor warm-up. again, my bad

The evening of the third day the pain started during leisure activities. After a few days I went to my massage therapist and she found the sternocleidomastoid to be tight. She treated it and I did some pinching treatment to that muscle as well in the following days and that helped a bit.

Now I'm almost fine, will see an osteopath soon for an adjustment but I would like to know if you have any suggestions to prevent this kind of injury again. I mean beside allowing the upper back muscles to recover properly before side planking and warming up decently, is there any exercises you suggest to strenghten the right muscles and to try to prevent this from happening again?


  • A few notes on the exercises you did: Avoid high pulls, they lead to shoulder impingement. Lat raises should be done to the cross position, not the "water pour" position. Deadlift is primarily an erector and hamstring exercise so focus on keeping your hamstrings loaded to reduce strain in other places.
    – John
    Oct 19, 2016 at 12:52
  • Yeah that's why I do high pulls with dumbells rather than with a bar so that I can externally rotate my arm while I'm going up, so that I can avoid shoulder impingement. Also I know the "water pour" lateral raises shouldn't be done, that's an old body builder myth, I've been doing them in a cross position like you suggested. With the deadlift the problem is that I should have allowed my upper back to recover properly first I think. So that when bending the rotator cuff and upper back muscles can keep the shoulders nicely back without getting too tight. Thanks anyway for you comment though. Oct 19, 2016 at 14:42
  • Some amount of upper-back rounding with deadlift is accepted at higher weights, your hamstrings are probably stronger than your upper back. Sounds like you have a good understanding of rotator cuff issues though.
    – John
    Oct 19, 2016 at 15:38

1 Answer 1


A 2004 article from The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, Sternocleidomastoid syndrome: A case study followed the diagnosis and treatment of a patient with your symptoms. The study found that posture may play a part in the occurrence of symptoms, and, exercises were recommended for that. Additionally, during a 4 week treatment phase, the following exercise modality was used:

  • Wall angels (shoulders abducted, elbows flexed, gradually brought back to sides, while retracting scapula)
  • Bruegger exercise (sit at the edge of chair, anterior pelvic tilt, chin tuck, hands turned outward, thumbs up pointing upward and behind shoulders, fingers wide apart)
  • Chin tucks
  • Dead bug (supine, knees and hips bent, spine in neutral position, maintain abdominal bracing as arms and legs are moved back and forth)
  • Quadruped (on hands and knees, spine in neutral position, abdominal bracing, head neutral position, arms and legs raised)
  • Upper back cat (on hands and knees, chin tuck, move buttocks toward ceiling).

In addition, the study found that,

“Proprioceptive exercises play an important role in retraining primary stabilizers of the spine and reprogramming subcortical connections to improve balance. Both rocker and wobble boards were used for proprioceptive training with eyes open for the first week and eyes closed for the second and third week. Isometric neck exercises were conducted during the first week using a medium size ball against the wall to strengthen weak neck flexors, extensors, rotators and in lateral bending. During week three the ball was replaced with surgical tubing which would allow full neck ranges of motion with resistance.”

While you may be able to perform some of these exercises on your own, it’s probably best that you work with a physical therapist to insure proper exercise form and follow up. Failure to do so, may result in a chronic condition.

  • Will try a few of these and see how it goes, thanks! Will come back to accept the answer if they solve my problem or I will try to provide more context. +1 for now :-) Oct 19, 2016 at 14:43

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