T Nation

Deadlift Neck Pain

Deadlifting brothers (and sisters), what am I doing wrong? When I deadlift > 400lbs, my neck muscles start to cramp (muscle(s) at the base of my skull). It’s not a vertebrae thing, it’s definitely a muscle thing, sometimes worse on one side than the other. It’s pretty severe, when it happens, I have to stop my workout (bummer).

I started closing my eyes during the lift, and this seems to help (I guess looking at myself in a mirror is a bad thing).

It occurs when I get the weight about 10" off the floor, so it’s not happening when I first pull, it happens as I move upward.

Thanks in advance!

well…don’t know if this will help…but i got some pain that went from the back of my neck up into the back/sides of my head…i thought it was a muscular thing but it turned out to be what is called an exertional headache…it ussually caused by not breathing properly…and can take a week or two to go away…focus on your breathing more…

or…you just strained a neck muscle…take it easy for a little while…

  1. drink more water
  2. potassium/sodium,magnesium/calcium in balance
  3. neck mobilization and strengthening exercises

And don’t close your eyes, it can make you pass out. Just keep looking up thoughout the lift rather than forward.

As skidmark says it probably has to do with strengthening your neck muscles but also…

1)How are you warming up, its possible you are doing too many warm up sets.

2)Are you uptight before you do your set? you should try to relax yourself control your breathing up until the point you grab the bar. Tighten your body not tense your muscles and take a deap breath before you lift or as your begin to lift then slowly exhale.

3)(MostLikely) Your back is not strong enough, which will cause your neck to tense more than it should to assist. Reduce your deadlifts to once a week for a while and concentrate on strengthening the whole supporting area with shrugs, upright rows, high pulls, and chins/pull ups.


get stronger overall and take more time to gradually work up in weight and adapt?

when i first started deadlifting heavy (for me,) it was such a strain that i felt like i was about to pull something in my neck and even up into my face. now with over 100 # more on the bar, it’s less of a strain than it was then.

but i’ve also been doing more neck work as well.

Thanks for all the advice, I’ll take it down a notch, work on my breathing, and ensure that I have the right electrolytes. In regards to the headache, I’ve had that too, so I’m betting that it’s related.

Thanks Again!

Thanks everyone, your advice worked! I pulled 455 today with zero neck pain.

I went down 100# for a couple of weeks, concentrated on better breathing, and that seemed to do the trick. Now I’m stronger than before and without the neck pain (or headache).

Thanks Again!