Understanding and Managing Muscle Strain in the Front of Your Neck

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Author Name: Lucas Cook
Date: Tuesday June 13, 2023

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Muscle strains can interfere with you doing the things you enjoy, so understanding the causes and learning to manage the pain can help you find peace and comfort. 

In this article, we’ll discuss what’s going on beneath the surface when you strain the front of your neck, as well as ways you can deal with the pain.  

What Is a Muscle Strain?

To understand what muscle strains are, we must first define muscles. A muscle is a band of soft tissue that connects to your bones via tendons. When you want to move a part of your body, your brain signals to the muscles that it’s time to activate and move the corresponding bones. 

Muscles move quickly and are fairly flexible. However, moving too hard, too fast or in the wrong direction will injure your muscle or tendon. 

A strain, characterized by tightness and pain, is a minor injury to your muscle or tendon. However, while the injury is minor, it can still be painful and limit your mobility. 

How Do Muscle Strains in the Front of the Neck Occur?  

A neck strain can occur from the overuse of its muscles or rapid motion. Common causes include: 

  • Looking upward or downward for too long: Whether you’re looking down at a book or up at a TV, spending too much time in these positions may strain the muscles in the front of your neck. 
  • Sleeping in an uncomfortable position: It’s best to sleep in a way that keeps your spine in its naturally curved position. Tilting your head awkwardly while sleeping may strain your neck muscles. 
  • Whiplash: Whiplash occurs from sudden forward and backward motion. You may strain the front of your neck during a car accident, rollercoaster ride, contact sports collision or sudden fall. 
  • Repetitive motion: Activating the same muscles repeatedly can wear them out and cause a strain. Even the movement from frequent coughing or sneezing can cause a minor strain. 
  • Injuries elsewhere in your body: Your neck’s muscles assist motion throughout your body. As a result, an injury to your shoulders, back or jaw could cause pain to radiate to your neck. 

Should You See a Doctor for a Neck Strain? 

In most cases, the muscles in the front of your neck will heal on their own after a strain. You can manage your pain symptoms by applying ice and heat or taking over-the-counter medications. 

Consider visiting a doctor if your neck pain is severe or persists for more than a couple of weeks. Of course, you should always see a doctor if you are in a traumatic accident that strains your neck. 

Exercises That Alleviate Pain When You Strain the Front of Your Neck

After the initial inflammation and pain of your muscle strain subside, you can alleviate the discomfort in the front of your neck by practicing a few exercises, including:

  • Passive neck stretch: Lie down and support your neck with a rolled-up towel. Then, tilt your head back to gently stretch the front of your neck for a few seconds. 
  • Standing neck stretch: Stand up straight and, holding a small weight in your right hand, tilt your head to the left and hold this position for a few seconds. Switch the weight to your left hand to repeat this motion on the right side. 
  • Anterior neck stretch: Overlap your hands on the front of your chest and, with your shoulders relaxed, tilt your head backward until you feel a stretch in your neck. Hold this position for 20 seconds. Then, with your neck still extended, tilt to each side for the same duration. For each position, move your head around until you feel a stretch that addresses the area that hurts. 

Now that you understand what causes pain in the front of your neck and how to avoid or mitigate it, hopefully, you can resolve your discomfort in the future and prevent strains before they occur.

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