Do you suffer from neck tension and headaches? This could be why:

Here at Fleming Fitness an Ottawa based mobile personal training company and studio we treat many cases of whiplash disorder, neck pain and constant headaches.  99% of the time the individual that complains of neck pain and headaches has poor posture.  This poor posture includes internally rotated shoulders/arms, head push forward and a slouched look.  The cause of this is tight internal rotation muscles of the arms Subscapularis, Pects and Lats along with a tight anterior (front) neck.  Assisting this poor posture is weak external rotators of the shoulders and arms (Rotator cuff muscles Infraspinatus and Teres Minor), Rhomboids and rear delts (shoulders).

Proper alignment of the head is over the shoulders with your ear hole in line with the center of your shoulder.  100% of clients we treat at Fleming Fitness that complain of neck tension and headaches have their head forward by 1-3 inches.  Meaning their ear hole is 1-3 inches in front of the mid-line of shoulder.    The human head weighs approximately 8-10lbs and when is it is pushed forward it is the posterior (back) of the neck muscles that must keep it up.  Therefore, those muscles are under tension constantly.   You might notice the pain increases when you are texting on your phone, reading in bed, at work or are in front of a computer because that position accentuates the forward head poke putting greater strain on the posterior neck.  Not only does this cause neck pain, but it can cause headaches and pain, weakness and numbness down into your arms and fingers.   This is called Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. The only way for this pain to disappear is to correct your posture.

The best way to stretch the anterior neck is by lying on a stability ball in a back bridge position and allowing gravity to push your head back. Remember you are not forcing it back, you are letting gravity do the work and always keep the back of your neck supported on the ball.  A stretch for your Lats is on all fours (knees and hands) and place one hand on the stability ball with your thumb pointed up.  You are trying to externally rotate your shoulder/arm while stretching on the ball.  If you feel pain or a “pinchy” feeling in your shoulder place your hand on the inner side of the ball so it is lower on the ball.  If you still have pain in your shoulder turn your arm down instead up having it pointed up.  A great way to stretch your chest (Pects) is on a doorway by bending your arms at 90 degrees and holding them out to the side.  Each arm is on the door frame of a door and slowly walk into the opening of the door until you feel a stretch along the front part of the chest/shoulders.

Now that you have loosened up the tight muscles you need to strength the weak muscles in the upper back.  Doing theraband external rotations exercises is good.  Seated Rows, single arm rows, rear delts activation are all good to strengthen the upper back muscles.

Keep working on this every other day and you will notice a difference in your posture and the tension and pain in your neck will be reduced. If you need help, we can be reached at

This was written by Ottawa Kinesiologist and Corrective Exercise Specialist Patrick Fleming of Fleming Fitness

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