A Pain in the Neck

Chris Hook, TPI-FP3, StrongFirst Team Leader, FMS

When it’s a pain in the neck that is bothering you, stretching your upper trap can feel great and when you add a little pec stretch you can get that discomfort to calm down faster. You know what I’m talking about, right? That nagging neck pain that feels like it creeps up into your brain. Maybe it limits your ability to turn your head. Or, you have that constant throbbing headache. A  couple of Advil will help it for a little bit, but it might just be coming from a tight upper trap and pec. T-spine mobility and shoulder stability play an important role in this too, but for right now, let’s just get the crick out of your neck.

The upper trapezius is a muscle that connects the neck to the shoulder blade. When this muscle is developed, it looks pretty awesome. However, when it dominates how you operate your shoulder it will cause neck pain and shut down your lower trapezius, which is super important to stabilizing your shoulder and keeping it down out of your ear. Remember that shoulders are ear poison. We want you to be able to keep your shoulders out of your ears. This is a great stretch to relax the upper trap and, when combined with stretching the pectoral/chest musculature, it can have a huge impact on those of you with a “crick” in your neck. As you read this, take a deep breath. Did your shoulders rise or did your belly fill with air? The latter is ideal in a resting position. Stretching your upper trap and learning to breathe in your belly/diaphragm can absolutely change how you use your spine and shoulder during the golf swing, and it can help you live a more comfortable life.

Stretch your upper trap and pec to relieve neck pain, but do it to be able to get your shoulders in a great position at the top of your backswing and into a comfortable finish position.

Here are some how-to instructions just in case the video isn’t enough:

Upper Trap Stretch

  • Place your right hand over your head with your hand on the left side of your head.
  • Tilt your head to the right. Think of putting your right ear on your right shoulder.
  • Gently pull your head down in the direction in which you are tilting and hold for the specified time.
  • Use your hand to help return your head to the starting position.
  • Switch your parts and repeat on the other side.

Doorway chest stretch

  • Place your palms against a door-jam at chest level
  • Step through the doorway with one foot in front
  • Slide your hands up the doorway if you do not feel a stretch with your hands at chest level
  • Slide your hands down the doorway if you feel too much stretch with your hands at chest level

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